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September 12, 2017

So Yeon Ryu

Evian-les-Bains, France

THE MODERATOR: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the media center for the 2017 Evian Championship. I'm Christina Lance with the LPGA, and I'm very happy to be joined by So Yeon Ryu, current world No. 1. This year she's a two-time winner on the LPGA Tour, including this year's ANA Inspiration, which makes So Yeon eligible for one of the wonderful events that we're here to celebrate this week, the Rolex Annika Major Award. Last year she tied for second here at Evian. Welcome back to France. It's got to be a wonderful return for you after how well you played last year.

SO YEON RYU: Yeah, absolutely. I'm always happy to come back here. It's always really beautiful scenery, and especially this year, Hotel Royal provide all the rooms for the major winners, so I was very fortunate to be staying at the Hotel Royal. The scenery is beautiful from there, as well. I kind of feel for more motivation, I want to win this tournament and I want to stay at this hotel for the rest of my career.

Yeah, I am very excited to play this tournament, especially this is going to be our last major of the year, so that definitely makes it more exciting and makes me more motivated to prepare well.

THE MODERATOR: You said you played nine holes yesterday and going back out again today. Battled the conditions out there. Tell me your thoughts, your first look at the golf course again this year.

SO YEON RYU: Actually I think the golf course is in the best shape since we started to play the new golf course. Also they have a few green changes, and I think the changes make us to play more reasonable and more exciting. So yeah, it's been rainy and a little cold, so hopefully this weather is going to turn out really well, then for sure all the players are going to perform their best.

THE MODERATOR: I know you took last week off. Tell me how you feel coming in this week. I would hope very relaxed coming into this week.

SO YEON RYU: Yeah, to be honest after the U.S. Open I haven't played really well, and I always feel really comfortable in Scotland, but even after I was feeling really great I couldn't really play well. Well, after I came back to Canada, I played okay, then I was not really playing well in Portland, so I thought I might need to have like a little break, so I just had like four days off, then I started working with my coach again. Then we thought it would be better to make a little change. It's not really a big change, it's a slight change. So I've been working really hard to get used to those little change, then hopefully it's going to have a really good effect with this tournament.

THE MODERATOR: Were you down in Dallas working with Cameron?

SO YEON RYU: Yeah, I was in Dallas for like four days, and when I had four days off I was in LA with my sister, then always fun to having a nice time with family. Yeah, I feel like I had plenty of rest and of course I've been practicing really hard. Yeah, then hopefully it will pay off right here.

THE MODERATOR: What are your favorite things to do while you're here in Evian?

SO YEON RYU: Just walking everywhere. No matter where you're going to go, it's still beautiful, then you really can have a special atmosphere. Like you can feel all the nature, you can feel the different cultures, and also I'm a huge fan of food, and food is really nice in here, even like the ham and cheese baguette sandwich is still so nice. Yeah, I really enjoy walking around this town, and I think all the fans out here are really, really nice, so it's really, really great to chat with them while we're at practice. Yes, everything is so great, it definitely feels like one of the best majors of the year.

Q. Can you just give us some specifics on the changes on the greens, which holes in particular you like?
SO YEON RYU: I only played like 6 through 15, and I only saw two green changes from 6 to 15, which is 12 and 15, and the green used to have like a really, really steep slope, and that made us to play really hard playing that hole, but right now it's a bit little less. It's more like flatter, so I think that makes us to play more like aggressive, I guess. So it's going to be more fun. And I think also like we always got a lot of rain when we play this tournament since we moved to September. Also like this golf course was very new, so some of the course was kind of like little -- like the grass was a little dead for these few years, but this year everything is in good shape, yeah.

Q. And can you tell us what the slight change is that you made with Cameron?
SO YEON RYU: First of all, just my mindset, like I didn't realize it until I played at the British Open that after that I would think about it, then actually like being world No. 1 is a lot of pressure. Like I didn't realize it, but finally I realized how much it is, how tough it is. But another thing I realized is that I don't want to like give up. I don't want to just run away. I just want to put on this pressure, and I want to fight through. Then I really want to feel like, okay, you know, I deserve to take this pressure, then of course this pressure is going to be really tough to keep focused on my game, and it could be really tough to keep pushing myself. But at the same time, it kind of feels like it's my duty because I'm No. 1 I also got a lot of benefit and I also receive a lot of love from the fans and all the people, so it feels like I definitely need to take that pressure.

That's how I changed my mindset. Before I thought I just wanted to -- I just didn't want to take that pressure and I just wanted to ignore -- like I don't really feel any pressure, I just wanted to ignore that, but right now I'm just facing that pressure but just keep working hard.

And about the swing change is just it always feels like my body open a little quicker when I started my downswing, so Cameron and I started working on facing my body more like square instead of open. So that's only one change. But just kind of need to do a lot of practice to get used to it.

Q. Could you just talk about a few of the little challenges you've overcome in dealing with the pressure? A few examples where maybe a bit ago you've thought no I'm not going to deal with that, and then you've doing something and you thought, yeah, I feel success?
SO YEON RYU: I think it's -- absolutely I feel a lot of pressure from the outside, like oh, So Yeon, you're close to Player of the Year, you're close to winning the Rolex Annika Major Award, and when people started to talk about it, I felt like I was having a lot of pressure. But I think to me, more tough thing is just myself. I just have a lot of high expectations just on my own. I expect a lot of things to myself, and I never allow me to make a bogey, I never allow me to finish outside of top 10, those sort of things. But right now it feels like I'm a human being, then as long as I did my best, I should let that go, otherwise I feel like I'm going to be like a robot. That's just huge mindset difference.

Q. What do you say to these people now when they say you're on the verge of doing this and that? Do you just say thank you?
SO YEON RYU: Well, yeah, absolutely. I just feel like the people -- why people say that to me, they encourage me to do that. They still want to support me. So of course it's an incredible thing to have a lot of people rooting for me all the time because sometimes you just cannot do it yourself. You need someone's help to make something really great. So I really appreciate all that thing, but just one thing is just -- I just need to think that one is my pleasure and my duty.

Also I think I'm like strong enough lady to get through that.

Q. Who do you feel like has been the biggest help for you in adjusting to some of the things you've been working through this year?
SO YEON RYU: Of course a lot of my staff, like closely my caddie, my coach, my psychologist, like my parents, so many people, but I think even the biggest help is my fellow competitors, which is all my colleagues on the Tour. Inbee is used to being No. 1, then I had dinner with Ai Miyazato and Yani Tseng yesterday and they used to be No. 1, and then they had the same exact experience as me. Nobody ever being in position, they never understand how I feel, but they've already been there. Every time I talk to them about it, I think they give me always the best solution. So I would say other players is the biggest helper to me these days.

Q. Could you just tell us, none of us is going to be No. 1, but could you explain what the tips are that they give you for being No. 1?
SO YEON RYU: The one thing that Yani said yesterday was she always felt like she just took -- she always feels like she has to do something great for the people instead of herself. Like a lot of people said, So Yeon, I know because of you, a lot of people -- you can make a lot of people happy. You also can -- feels like you have to make someone happy. I mean, you have to play well to make someone happy, but at the end this is your golf, and you're the one that has to be happy. One of the biggest lessons from them was just don't think about other people's happiness, just think on your own.

Q. Speaking of Ai, this is obviously a special week for her. Can you talk about what she's meant to the LPGA and maybe to you personally?
SO YEON RYU: Yeah, when I first time heard she was going to retire was when I played the Volvik Championship in Michigan. That was after my first round, and when I heard it, I just nearly cried. I just really had to hold that up. When I was young, Ai was one of my idols, and I still remember I met Ai my first time in my life in 2009 when I played the Japan against Korea tournament in Okinawa. I still remember the exact situation. And also I played with Ai in 2011 U.S. Women's Open practice round and this tournament practice round, as well. Then Ai won the U.S. Women's Open, then she won this tournament in 2011. Because of that, she always feels like even more special to me.

Also, as everybody knows, she was a great ambassador for this game, and she will be forever. She's not even just great golfer, she's a really great person. She always makes other players really happy, and she knows real sportsmanship. She's the one always rooting for every player, and she just wants to play a little better than them.

Yeah, in my mind she's going to be always my idol star. Even though I cannot see her anymore on the Tour, she's still going to be in my heart and she's going to be my really good friend forever. I really want to be rooting for her in another chapter of her life, and also someday I'm like going to retire, as well, then she's going to have the experience a little earlier than me, so for sure she's going to be a really great advisor for me when I get time to get retired.

Yeah, she means a lot to me, and hopefully this week she's going to fully enjoy this tournament with her whole team like caddie, manager, and her colleagues out here and all the fans, and hopefully we're going to keep rooting for her life, and for sure we're going to forever to remember her.

Q. With so many year-end accolades on the line, what's the rest of your schedule look like? Will you add more events?
SO YEON RYU: After this tournament, I'm planning to play about like four tournaments in Asia, then I'm planning to play CME, and then we have another tournament in Korea, which is LPGA Korean player versus KLPGA player. That's been my last tournament of the year for the last two years, and that's been a really, really great closing tournament. So yeah, that's my plan. And I think I left about like five tournaments without that Korean event.

Then my goal is I want to enjoy it as I can for the rest of the tournament, then for sure my goal, I just want to be Player of the Year at the end, as well. Even though I can achieve my goal or not, as a lot of players advise, I really want to be happy on the Tour.

Q. You talk about friendships, the friendship you have with Ai. How do the friendships out here differ from the friendships you would have had in college or in school?
SO YEON RYU: Well, it's very different because when you're in school or college, you never really compete to them. I know you should have a better score than them if you want to have like an A+ or something in school, but that's not like really battling compared to here. The thing is like, well, everybody is just competing with each other on the Tour, but at the same time, we know how tough it is on the road, and we know how tough it is to be better every day. So we really understand each other. Even though we are kind of like sometimes enemies on the golf course, we are still best friends off the golf course. I think friendship with another professional golfer is really, really special.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you so much, So Yeon. Have a wonderful week, and stay warm out there.

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