Inspired by giving, So Yeon Ryu shakes off nerves for Meijer LPGA victory

GRAND RAPIDS, MI - JUNE 17: So Yeon Ryu of South Korea reacts after winning the Meijer LPGA Classic for Simply Give at Blythefield Country Club on June 17, 2018 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Inspired by giving, So Yeon Ryu shakes off nerves for Meijer LPGA victory

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Inspired by giving, So Yeon Ryu shakes off nerves for Meijer LPGA victory

So Yeon Ryu admittedly had driven herself “crazy” this year. She wanted to be perfect all the time, and when it didn’t happen, she couldn’t let it go. It was a maddening cycle, one that led to unusual inconsistency for last year’s co-LPGA Player of the Year.

“I just was like, why couldn’t I finish top-10? Why couldn’t I win a tournament?” Ryu said. “So that made me really crazy.”

Perhaps it was the pro-am round that made the difference at the Meijer LPGA Classic in Michigan. Ryu played with the president of Meijer on Wednesday, and they spoke at length about the Simply Give charity associated with the Grand Rapids event. The program focuses on hunger relief, supplying neighborhood food pantries since 2008.

“After I shot 8 under on Thursday, I just promised myself, if I’m going to win the tournament,” Ryu said. “I want to donate some money to Simply Give, and I’m really happy I can keep my promise.”

On a blustery day in Michigan, Ryu estimated that she prayed to God “like a thousand times.” She felt nerves but remained focused, blocking out the leaderboard and finishing two shots ahead of Germany’s Caroline Masson for her sixth career title. Ryu’s closing 67 gave her a 21-under 267 total. She broke 70 all four rounds and was particularly pleased with her putting, an area in which she has struggled in 2018.

“Just keep talking myself to just trust yourself,” Ryu said. “Like I know I’m a great player, I know I can handle all the tough situations and I’ve got this, and then I made it.”

Masson dropped a 70-foot putt for birdie on the 18th hole to take second alone. Former World No. 1 Lydia Ko finished solo third after carding three consecutive 67s.

“This course, you know, you shoot 3, 4, 5 under and there’s somebody shooting 8 under out there,” Ko said. “I don’t remember this course being this easy and I don’t think it was easy, but it just shows the amount of talent that’s on our tour.”

Recent U.S. Women’s Open champion Ariya Jutanugarn got the day started with a sizzling 10-under 62, a career best, at Blythefield Country Club. She birdied five of her first seven holes and eagled the par-5 eighth to make the turn in 29. The 59-watch ended on the back nine when she quit hitting fairways, but she managed to vault from a tie for 56th into 12th.

Jutanugarn leads the tour with 10 top-10 finishes. Sister Moriya’s tie for ninth at the Meijer moved her into second on the LPGA with seven top-10s.

“Feels good,” Ariya said “I didn’t feel that I played that good because I still had lots of missed shots. I missed the fairway way right on 18, 40 yards right, but I just made some pretty good putts on the front nine.”

Ryu’s victory all but locked up her spot on the South Korea’s UL International Crown team. With the event being staged overseas for the first time in Ryu’s native country this October, it was high on her list for 2018.

“Actually, the UL International Crown definitely makes me motivated to play well, at the same time definitely gives me extra pressure,” Ryu said. “Like I don’t want to miss that, I really want to play.

“I kind of feel relief right now.” Gwk

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