Golf: Ryu eyes third Major in chase for Grand Slam

Two of her five LPGA wins have come at the Majors, proof that world No. 1 Ryu So Yeon relishes the challenge on golf's biggest stage. Solid iron shots will be crucial at this week's Women's PGA Championship.
Two of her five LPGA wins have come at the Majors, proof that world No. 1 Ryu So Yeon relishes the challenge on golf's biggest stage. Solid iron shots will be crucial at this week's Women's PGA Championship.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Confident South Korean seeks back-to-back LPGA wins, tough field awaits at PGA C'ship

CHICAGO (Illinois) • New world No. 1 Ryu So Yeon will tee off at the LPGA Women's PGA Championship today looking to distance herself from the rest of the competition.

The South Korean ascended to the top of the world rankings for the first time following her win at the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship on Sunday.

That victory also made the 26-year-old, who won her second Major in April at the ANA Inspiration, the first winner of multiple LPGA Tour events this year.

As she enters the second Major of the year this week, Ryu has set her sights on completing a career Grand Slam.

"The Grand Slam is one of my best goals right now," the 2011 US Women's Open champion told a press conference on Tuesday.

"That's the one I really want to achieve. So even though I'm No. 1 right now, I still have to knock down three more tournaments to become a Grand Slam winner, so I don't think I am going to stop to keep improving myself."

Her best finish at the Women's PGA Championship was tied-fourth last year at the Sahalee Country Club in Washington. But she knows the par-71, 6,588-yard course at Olympia Fields Country Club outside Chicago offers her a chance of getting the third piece of the Grand Slam puzzle.

ULTIMATE AMBITION

So even though I'm No. 1 right now, I still have to knock down three more tournaments to become a Grand Slam winner, so I don't think I am going to stop to keep improving myself.

RYU SO YEON , Women's world No. 1 on her ultimate goal, to win all five golf Majors.

"For sure like from last week I got a lot of confidence to play this Major tournament, especially I think this week is really important to have a great iron shot, and my iron shot has been really great," she said. "I feel pretty comfortable playing this golf course."

Still, she will have plenty of rivals breathing down her neck.

The depth in women's golf is evident. Ryu aside, Thailand's Ariya Jutanugarn and New Zealand's Lydia Ko have held the world No. 1 spot this year. And the first 16 events of the year have resulted in 15 different champions.

Said world No. 3 Ko: "It just shows the amount of talent that everybody feeds off each other and they're all really good vibes that we're feeding off. I'm working hard to keep consistently putting myself in positions."

The 20-year-old almost claimed a third consecutive Major title at the Sahalee Country Club but lost to Canadian Brooke Henderson on the first play-off hole.

World No. 12 Henderson will begin her title defence with confidence after claiming her fourth career win two weeks ago at the Meijer LPGA Classic.

World No. 2 Ariya Jutanugarn, who was absent from the Arkansas event and lost the top ranking after just three weeks, believes the depth in talent has taken the pressure off her.

"I think I have so much fun because like I know they're great, they're amazing golfers, they can win in any tournament, and they can become No. 1 in any week, we never know," she said ahead of the start of the US$3.5 million (S$4.85 million) tournament, where she is seeking to better her third-placed finish from last year.

"And that made me feel easier because I don't have to worry about the ranking."

LPGA WOMEN'S PGA CHAMPIONSHIP

Day 1: Singtel TV Ch115 & StarHub Ch209, tomorrow, 12.30am

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 29, 2017, with the headline 'Ryu eyes third Major in chase for Grand Slam'. Print Edition | Subscribe