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June 27, 2018

So Yeon Ryu

Kildeer, Illinois

THE MODERATOR: Now we are happy to be joined here by world No. 5, So Yeon Ryu, six-time LPGA winner including the 2011 U.S. Women's Open and 2017 ANA Inspiration. This is So Yeon's seventh KPMG Women's PGA Championship, has a best finish of tied for fourth in 2016. She's also competing in her 14th event of 2018, has made every cut, three top 10 finishes and a highlighting win at the Meijer LPGA Classic.

Welcome in. You said you played nine holes today. How is the golf course other than unfortunately we hear it's wet?

SO YEON RYU: Yeah, the golf course is wet, but I love this golf course. Every hole has a different character, especially the greens has a lot of character. You have to have a really great second shot.

Also depends on pin position, the greens could play totally differently. So I really enjoy this golf course, and especially I love the last three holes, like 16, 17, 18 is really great closing holes, and hopefully I can make some birdies the last three holes.

THE MODERATOR: Literally every single person who has sat in that chair has mentioned 16, 17 and 18 as fabulous closing holes. What is it about those three that you think are going to be a challenge for you guys as you take to the course?

SO YEON RYU: Yes, definitely a challenge. 16 is not an easy tee shot. Not an easy second shot, either. And then 17, depends on which teeing ground we're going to use, also what spot of the greens we're going to use. I think it's going to be a totally different hole. And then 18, literally dogleg right to left, and then also I think that hole is going to play really differently, depending on which direction of wind we're going to have. So it's going to be a lot of fun holes.

THE MODERATOR: You had a good finish last week in Arkansas, coming off the win before that. How do you feel coming into the season's next major?

SO YEON RYU: Yeah, I think I just definitely had a lot of pressure on for this year, and then after I won the Meijer Classic I feel much better than -- well, I think I was a bit too harsh on me. I was like, why couldn't you finish top 10, why couldn't you finish top 5, why couldn't you hit that ball even straighter, why couldn't you make that putt. And then after the results, I always think about it, and then I think it's just time to be kind to myself. You're better not to be too harsh on me because I think if I look back over my LPGA career, I've been finishing top 10 quite a lot. I think that just made me -- you don't have to be consistent all the time, and at the same time, I'm a human being.

I know I'm always going to do my best, but I cannot control the result. Right now my mindset is as long as your preparation was 100 percent effort, I'm just going to walk away with the result. I'm just not going to think about the result too much, and that attitude made me able to win the tournament, the Meijer Classic. So hopefully I can have this positive mind for the rest of the year and the rest of my career.

Q. In addition to the golf course, people have been raving about the event overall, and not just this year but in years leading up to this. Where does this rate among the major championships?
SO YEON RYU: To be honest, this is my favorite as a major. Well, it was really hard to tell which one is better, which one is not good. But since we have the PGA of America as our tournament host, we've been at a really, really great golf course a lot. I've enjoyed all the golf courses we've been playing. I really enjoyed Sahalee, Westchester. Also this week is going to be a really fun week, so it could be No. 1 major.

Q. In addition to the golf courses, what makes it the No. 1 major?
SO YEON RYU: Well, first of all, they select always a great golf course, and then their course setup is really nice. Everything really makes sense.

Also how they manage the tournament and everything just feels like it's like true major.

Q. Five different players can go to No. 1 this week. It seems like No. 1 is just always a question now. Is it something you're getting used to? Is it easier to deal with the pressures that come with that because you've been exposed to it longer now?
SO YEON RYU: I think when I was No. 1, I didn't realize how much pressure I was under, but after I dropped the ranking, I realized, okay, that was a lot of pressure. But it was definitely worth it. And then as a professional golfer, it's a huge honor to become the No. 1 player in the world, and then because we are professional, I think we deserve to handle all the pressure.

I really want to get back to that position, and I don't mind to holding the pressure. I didn't know all the top 5 players have chance to become No. 1. Hopefully I'm going to win this tournament and become No. 1 again, sooner than expected, and hopefully I can win the tournament when I'm No. 1.

Q. Likely you will be playing International Crown in Incheon, Korea, and I remember you played in Chicago two years ago. How do you feel about International Crown and playing in your own country?
SO YEON RYU: Well, actually International Crown definitely gave me the extra motivation to play well for this season, and at the same time give me a lot of pressure, as well. Well, I really enjoyed to play in 2014 and 2016 International Crown, but, well, golf is really popular sport right now in Korea and all the golf fans expected us to hold the crown, but we haven't had it. So that's even more pressure to me to play International Crown in front of them, like Korean golf fans in Korea.

But I've had amazing support from Korea, and then I really want to have a really good performance to make my Korean fans happy, so hopefully all four Koreans that are playing really well in Incheon, and then we can have that crown in front of all the Korean fans.

Q. Just following up on the Crown, for those players that are fighting for the last spot on your team, how intense is interest in that already overseas, in Korea? Have you got any sense how much interest there is in who's going to make that team? And how does that affect the players that are trying to make the team?
SO YEON RYU: Well, of course like Korean media started to talk about it a lot, then all the Koreans knew it, as well. Also, I found out I'm pretty secure to play, to make the team through Korean media. I read an article, and they said, you're pretty safe. I'm like, okay, that's a relief. And then I saw last week Hye Jin Choi won the tournament in KLPGA and she jumped up a few spots and right now she's the fourth player that's Korean, and then I think I.K. is fifth right now. So all the players already knew it, as well, through all the media and all the fact what was going on in Korea. And they definitely want to play -- represent their team as Koreans because it's a huge honor to represent our own country, and then especially I.K. has been playing International Crown in 2014 and she knows how cool the tournament is going to be. She's also wanting to have a crown because we couldn't have the crown back then. The Korean players always talked about it, then hopefully we can have our best players for my country, and then hopefully our teamwork is going to be awesome for that week.

Q. You were talking a lot about pressure, pressure you put on yourself to win and the pressure that you felt when you were No. 1 and the pressure to make this UL International Crown team. How have you learned to manage all of that pressure that you do feel out here on a week-to-week basis?
SO YEON RYU: I think best way you learn how to learn pressure is you should fail. Like I think, for example, when we were playing on the golf course and then when I -- if I look back all my professional career, when I win, I feel like I never really feel that pressure much. I'm just in my zone. I just don't really know about the pressure. All I care about is my golf ball. I never really think about it. But when you fail, you start to realize how much pressure you're holding on. So after you fail you start to think about the pressure and then you start to think about how to manage the pressure.

And then that's nothing you can learn through a book or nothing you can learn through all the people. You have to go through that phase to learn how to manage the pressure. I guess everyone is different. For me, just balance between golf, golfer's life and my personal life, it's huge to help me out to manage the pressure because if you only think about golf, it's kind of like you just cannot even breathing. Like you always think about how I'm going to hit the shot really great, how I'm going to make the putt more, how I'm going to win the tournament. And then, well, I hope I can win all the tournament, but it's literally impossible to win every tournament. If you only think about the golf, you have no room to have a breathing. When you have a really good balance between golfer's life and your personal life, I think you have a chance to get away from the golf, and then that makes you enjoy the golf more, and then that makes you to think about golf more positive way. So it's just only my opinion, but I think the pressure is -- you just cannot learn from other people or by book.

Q. How do you then find that balance? Do you make sure each week you're on the road to find some time to do something else away from golf? What are some of those activities that you do?
SO YEON RYU: I actually try not to obsess with golf. Like I just -- like the thing I actually told my mom, like mom, golf is weird. When I'm struggling with golf, golf just makes me so stressful. But at the same time, I still love grinding out there. It's just weird. I wish I just can be like, I'm done. I just can't do it anymore. But it's because I love this game so much, I just cannot quit.

So when I'm struggling or when I cannot find out something on my own, I always try to find someone to talk to, and then I just try to get away from golf. I just do cooking and then talk to my sister or my family in Korea, and then do some shopping or drinking wine with a great friend. So I think that's how I manage, like just as long as I love this game, I think it's really hard not to obsess with it, but I'm better not to obsess with it.

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