Golf goals: Ryu So-yeon resolves to achieve Grand Slam

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Golf goals: Ryu So-yeon resolves to achieve Grand Slam


Ryu So-yeon watches her shot during the 2017 LPGA KEB Hana Bank Championship in Incheon in October. [YONHAP]

Last year, Ryu So-yeon spent 19 weeks at the top of the women’s world ranking. This season, the 27-year-old golfer plans to do it again - and better.


Ryu So-yeon hopes to get back to the top of the Rolex Women’s World Raking in the 2018 season. [JTBC GOLF]

“I want to get back to first in the world ranking,” she said. “It’ll only be possible by winning more and staying in the competition to win. After reaching the top spot, I’ll work harder to maintain it as long as possible.”

Last year, Ryu stayed at the top of the ranking for 19 consecutive weeks, from June 26 to Nov. 5. It was the best season of her career, her first multi-title since her debut on the LPGA Tour in 2012, with one victory at a major tournament no less.

“It was a year where I achieved more than I planned,” she said. “But the most memorable achievement is getting to the top spot in the world ranking. I was always uncertain about it, thinking to myself if I could actually do it, but I was really happy to have done it after my second win of the season.”

Since Ryu has already won two LPGA Tour majors - the U.S. Women’s Open in 2011 and ANA Inspiration in 2017 - her next goal is to complete a career Grand Slam.

To do it, a golfer has to win four of the five major tournaments in the LPGA. Only seven players, most recently Park In-bee, have made the accomplishment.

“I want to lay a stepping stone toward winning a major,” Ryu said, “by winning other tournaments.”

With her goals set, Ryu left for Dallas on Dec. 27 for offseason training. She will start her season at the LPGA opener, the Pure Silk Bahamas LPGA Classic, starting on Jan. 25, and she will not have much time to prepare. As a result, Ryu plans to focus on putting.

“Looking back at my season, I think my results depended heavily on how I putted that day,” she said. “I’ll train to know better about my putting style and mechanism.”

Last season, Ryu won the Annika Major Award, was named player of the year and ranked second on the money list, but her putting statistics didn’t improve much, ranking 98th with an average 30.01 putts per round.

Since 2014, Ryu has been struggling to maintain her average between 26 and 30, the optimal range for a pro.

But good putting doesn’t always determine the best player. Average putting numbers can varied by greens in regulation.

Taking that into consideration, Ryu’s putting wasn’t bad, as her average number of putts per round was 1.77 when she hit greens in regulation.

The optimal figure is 1.73. It’ll be Ryu’s primary goal to maintain consistency in her putting throughout the season.

Of the majors, Ryu chose the Ricoh Women’s British Open as the event she wants to win the most, and she expects Korean golfers to dominate the field again this season.

“Korean golfers are really good,” Ryu said. “If I can win more than 2017, it’ll be possible to set a new record for most number of wins in a single season,” which is currently 15.

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