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November 14, 2017
THE MODERATOR: Welcome back to the media center. Happy to be joined by world No. 3, So Yeon Ryu. Two wins this season; first major at the ANA Inspiration, as well as the Wal-Mart Northwest Arkansas Championship.
Let me run through a couple of your superlatives for the year. Currently No. 1 in Rolex Player of the Year standings; No. 2 in official money; No.4 in the Race to the CME Globe, and No. 5 in scoring average, not to mention that she won the Rolex Annika major award at the Evian Championship.
Quite a season it's been for you, So Yeon. Looking back to 2017, I can't believe we're at the end of it. What's been some of the more standout moments for you as you look back to the year behind us?
SO YEON RYU: Definitely I cannot not talk about the ANA Inspiration, because since that tournament, until that tournament, I haven't won any tournament on the LPGA for like two year and a half.
Then after that I got my confidence back; then I started to play even better and better; then I was able to have my second victory at the Walmart Championship as well.
Yeah, it's been really, really good year. I still cannot believe this is my last tournament of the year on the LPGA Tour. I'm kind of excited.
THE MODERATOR: So this is your sixth time playing here at Naples. You were the runner-up here twice, including last year. What about this course seems to suit you? What do you like most about this event here at Tiburon?
MARISSA MAR: To be honest, I'm not really sure about what kind of game is suit for this golf course, but definitely this is one of the most exciting tournament.
Like every year, in my memory, I was in top 10 for pretty much like every year for the CME Race Globe. So if I won this tournament, I was able to get the $1 million, so that definitely gave my extra motivation to like working hard at this tournament.
And then the golf courses is always in good shape, especially this year. I was little worried about the course condition, especially after Irma, but this golf course is in really great shape, like best I've ever seen. I'm really excited to play another CME Globe Championship as well.
THE MODERATOR: Questions.
Q. Basically your whole life it was a goal for you to reach No. 1; you did it. Now you're back to No. 3 and you have a chance to regain No. 1. Is it as big a goal now to get it again and retain it?
SO YEON RYU: First of all, I'm really happy to see Shanshan become No. 1. I know she's incredible player, incredible person, and I really happy to see her be No. 1.
Yeah, of course being No. 1 was really awesome experienced. Of course when heard I'm not going to be No. 1 anymore, of course that was not the greatest news I've heard.
But I think since I become No. 1 I haven't won any tournament on the LPGA Tour, I don't think I'm -- I was feel like I'm no longer deserve for the No. 1 spot. So that's definitely my goal. I really want to get back to that position.
What I can say is when I was being No. 1 I was not really not really satisfied with my result, so when I come back to No. 1 I want to be stronger and win more tournament.
Q. So given where you are, is it more important for you this week to walk away with Player of the Year or get No. 1 back?
SO YEON RYU: I would say Player of the Year, but I'm more concerned about my shoulder injury. I started to struggle with my shoulder since Malaysia and still haven't really 100% yet. Yesterday I was feel about like 80%, so I was really excited. But when I tried to practice this morning I couldn't really hit the ball, so I only play like four holes and just putting just now my practice.
To be honest, my No. 1 goal is just my shoulder going to be 100% well and then play tournament.
Q. Tell us what's going on with your shoulder. You said it traced back to Malaysia.
SO YEON RYU: Good thing is nothing related to ligament, so pretty much the muscle and overuse. All I need to do is just having a rest. That's what I did last week. I couldn't really practice much last week. Purely focus on short game, putting and chipping, and I would say maybe 30 to 50 ball was the max I was able to practice.
Like, to be honest, my expectation level with my long game is not really high right now a could be. I think it could be really good thing, but good news is this is my last tournament of the year so I can have plenty of rest.
I have best team, so for sure I can get back to healthy shoulder.
Q. So this is affecting you most on your swings?
SO YEON RYU: Yeah, but actually sometimes backswing; sometimes follow-through; sometimes back of my shoulder; sometimes front of my shoulder.
So cannot really working out, but my team is working really hard to get like fixed everything. Also last week I training with my trainer in Dallas. He trained me, then also he is same page as my osteopath, as well.
So, yeah, hopefully it'll be okay by Thursday. Then hopefully I can do my best.
THE MODERATOR: We hope so, too. We want you out there at full strength.
Q. Which shoulder is it?
SO YEON RYU: Right shoulder.
Q. Okay. And then just a question about this championship. I know it's not set up like a major, but with the Vare Trophy, the Player of the Year, the $1 million jackpot, the world ranking - did I say that? With all those different things, is there as much pressure and history to be made in this event that you would get in a major?
SO YEON RYU: For sure. Even those this is not like major tournament because of like everything mention about, it feels like major. Feels like definitely one of the highlight for the year. Like even though you had a not really great season, if you play well at this tournament you going to feel like, Okay, I had a great season. You're able to just walk away from the season.
Yeah, without major title, this one feels like major.
Q. I know that sometimes you work with a sports psychologist. Coming into this event not 100%, did you talk to her? If so, what advice did she give you?
SO YEON RYU: Actually, we talk more about my goal, because like I didn't realize it before -- I mean, until last week, but what I realize was deep in my mind I was like, Okay, I reach No. 1 right now. Only one more goal I have to reach, win the Player of the Year.
So I think I was thinking myself, Okay, right now I'm No. 1. Then if I'm going to win the Player of the Year, maybe I'm just going to really enjoy my professional career.
But that's not really true. You know, even though when you reached every thing you still cannot enjoy fully. You want to be great, you have to do your best and you have to keep working hard.
But I guess deep in my mind I was like, Okay, after I've done like everything what I wanted to do, I'm just going to be like relaxed.
Then when I talked to my psychologist, I realized -- actually, right now, you know, I mean, as not being No. 1 player, I kind of see like I'm still motivate to play better and still want to be better player every day.
So feels like right now I'm like motivated like more than like any other days like for the like past few years. We didn't really talk about the shoulder injury, but what I can say is like right now I'm really, really motivate to get back to No. 1 player.
What I'm more motivate is when I get back to No. 1, I really want to be like well deserved No. 1. Like being in contention like more often, pick up the trophy more often. I really want to be stronger next time I become No. 1.
Q. You mentioned earlier you didn't win after you became No. 1. Reflecting on that, is there one thing you can point to that you feel like you'll be better at the second time around?
SO YEON RYU: Back then I didn't really know that, but I knew like -- like for example, I played tournament in Korea. Pro-am partner was like, When you're No. 1 I think you better to won every month. I was like, Yeah, maybe I haven't win any tournaments since I became No. 1, so I was kind of feel a little ashamed.
That was kind of like get me more motivate to, Okay, I really want to win, I really want to win. Also, when you feel like you're really ready to win and you really cannot win the tournament, you're kind of like, it's like frustrated. Like when I'm going to win? When I'm going to be really No. 1?
So I think those kind of experience make my more willing to win the tournament.
Q. Did you find it harder to get to No. 1 or stay there?
SO YEON RYU: I think stay at No. 1, because when I just become No. 1, I didn't expect it. My expectation level about the No. 1 was like zero. Like I mean, No. 1 player in the world was definitely my goal, but I didn't know that win going to bring the No. 1 spot.
So I think staying No. 1 is harder.
Q. With all the things on your mind toward the end of the year, not only the No. 1 ranking, but leading Player of the Year, you're in the hunt for the Vare Trophy, money title, $1 million, what was that like through that last spell? How much pressure was there with all that on the line through this last couple months?
SO YEON RYU: I want to say that was really stressful, especially it wasn't -- the reason why it was really stressful was all the like desire thing was not from me, like from the other people.
Like my family or my friends and fans like, Oh, you better to be No. 1 long as you can, you better to win the Player of the Year, you better to win the Vare Trophy. All the just input was like way too much.
I just keep had to talking myself to like what I really want is just give my best, then -- I mean, like do my best, and the result I cannot handle it, so let's just focus on what I can do.
So last I would say two months was really stressful, but what I can say was I did my best for sure. If I'm looking back, no regret at all with what I did and how I prepare the tournament.
So it's still same right now. Just going to do my best for this week and see how it goes for 2017 season.
Q. Just looking here at the results, after you became No. 1 you've had three top 10s and five top 15s. Are your expectations too high, and are the expectations of others talking to you too high?
SO YEON RYU: I would say both. Right now I can tell actually after I played KEB Hana Bank I was feel like I think I'm ready to win. So since then, every Asian swing I been play, every time like just day before the tournament I was like, Is it going to be the one I'm going to win? I was like excited every single day.
I started to struggle with my shoulder at Malaysia, so it was kind of sad, too. I couldn't really like battle it out with other players. I would say if you looked at the result maybe that's not bad, but I think not great for the No. 1.
Q. And secondly, you were one gust of wind with a hybrid here last year from perhaps winning this tournament and walking away with the million. Is this a golf course that you think, I can consistently play well and can walk away with a victory, or one you say Eh, it's okay?
SO YEON RYU: I would say really depends on my condition. Also, I really enjoy to play this golf course, so I want to say this golf course maybe suit for my game, but right now I just cannot think of result.
I'm more concern about my shoulder condition. I'm just more concern about my shoulder is capable to play tournament or not. I just really cannot thinking that far right now.
What I can do right now is practice a lot of putting and chipping so at least my short game going to be ready to play.
Q. Couple questions: As you faced expectations of being No. 1, did you ever talk to Inbee?
SO YEON RYU: Inbee is like, So Yeon, don't worry about the other people. If you going to play how you played the past five years, you definitely going to be Player of the Year, you definitely going to be No. 1 forever.
So she just give me a lot of confidence. I talk to Ai quite a lot before she retired, and I talked to Yani quite a lot. They were both same. Yani said like, When I was No. 1 I got so much pressure to representing my country and representing like other people.
So she just told me, Just be yourself. Don't just try to achieve other people's dream. Just follow your dream. So most players give me a lot of advice as just be myself instead of living other people's life.
Q. Secondly, do you think it's good for the LPGA? They've had five players be No. 1 this year. There is great depth; a lot great players. Or do you think it's better if one person wins most of the time, like Lydia has done the past couple years?
SO YEON RYU: That's tough question, because could be really great to see like a lot of players have opportunity to being No. 1. Because like every single players just really love this game and they do their best to be No. 1. It's really great to see like a lot of players achieve their dream.
But at the same time, could be like we might need like a rock star, like win the tournament more than five times in the year, being in contention like pretty much every tournament.
So actually that's my next goal. I want to be rock star for future. (Laughter.)
Q. If this is your last tournament and you won't play golf for a couple months, give us your idea of the perfect vacation.
SO YEON RYU: I'm going to play one more tournament in Korea after this, but that's KLPGA versus LPGA players. Inbee is hosting the tournament, hosted by Inbee Park, so that's I think one of the like greatest finale we can do.
Obviously like no matter where you come from we always compete each other on the tour, but when we going to play that tournament we going to represent the LPGA as Korean player, then all the Korean player going to be like the real team.
Like we started to play the tournament since 2015. Then I didn't even know that one become that serious tournament, but that was like really serious battle. So that's kind of really good way to closing my season.
And then perfect vacation, I would say eat, drink, and like meeting family and friends. So I haven't really drink wine since Malaysia. I think even before Malaysia because of my shoulder. I cannot wait to having like wine night with Inbee. That's my favorite night since Inbee and I started to drink wine.
So like pretty much like when I'm in Korea, more than like one time, I'm always going to visit Inbee's house and playing around with Inbee's dog, having a wine night. We just having like wine plenty as we can. We always going like a lot of deep conversation going on.
So I miss those kind of nights, so I'm definitely going to spend a lot of time with Inbee and then my family. I would say going to do more ballet for this off-season. I started to do ballet last year, so I'm going to do again.
Q. You studied ballet earlier, didn't you?
SO YEON RYU: When I was like for or five and then I haven't done it for more than like 20 years, and then I just started again last year.
THE MODERATOR: So are you up on your toes in the toe shoes, or that kind of exercise?
SO YEON RYU: That kind of -- well, that kind of exercise and I'm trying to do it as well. Well, yeah, because right now I'm more athletic right now. I'm not really like ballet type of body right now.
But it's like more fun, because every time when I work out or do something everything is just for golf. When I do ballet I feel like more concentrating on myself, know my body well. Feels like really, really like girly thing to do. I really enjoy it.
Q. Just to clarify, the ideal vacation, drink wine and ballet?
SO YEON RYU: Drink wine, friend, and ballet.
THE MODERATOR: One last question. So you're one of or five players that can potentially go home with $1 million this week. Maybe the $1 million will help for this vacation. What would you do with the $1 million?
SO YEON RYU: Actually, like since become professional golfer I always wanted to do my own foundation. I haven't make me own foundation yet. If I'm going to have $1 million, that's going to be great base money for launching my foundation.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports