Ryu stays focused but feels win is weird

Ryu So Yeon kissing the ANA Inspiration trophy, the first Major of 2017. This was Ryu's second Major and the victory moves her up to world No. 2 behind Lydia Ko of New Zealand.
Ryu So Yeon kissing the ANA Inspiration trophy, the first Major of 2017. This was Ryu's second Major and the victory moves her up to world No. 2 behind Lydia Ko of New Zealand.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

RANCHO MIRAGE • Ryu So Yeon won the ANA Inspiration, the first women's golf Major of the year, with a birdie at the first play-off hole on Sunday, but she said her triumph felt "weird".

The South Korean benefited in the final round when Lexi Thompson, leading by three with six holes to play, was given a four-stroke penalty for an incorrect ball placement in the previous round.

In her post-championship TV interview, Ryu said she never expected Thompson to be assessed the penalty, but she tried to stay focused on her own play.

"We always work hard to bring our 'A-game', and it hurts me as well," she said of Thompson"s plight, saying it was "a very unfortunate situation".

"It's a weird feeling, but I am proud of myself. I am really appreciative of everything right now."

The South Korean said she knew Thompson would get a lot of backing from the partisan American crowds, so she herself tried to feed off the Korean fans in the stands and also those watching on TV back home, reported Yonhap news agency.

"I thought I was well behind (Lexi). But I just wanted to play my game and have a strong finish," said Ryu, who had been the tour's best player without a win this year.

She came into the ANA Inspiration as the money leader with US$387,166 (S$541,161) and the scoring leader at 67.938 strokes per round.

Ryu finished among the top 10 in her four previous starts this season.

The 26-year-old began the final day one stroke behind the leader, Suzann Pettersen, at 10 under and put together a bogey-free round of four-under 68, closing with a birdie to finish the regulation at 274.

It was Ryu's fourth consecutive round in the 60s.

This was her fourth LPGA victory and her second Major following the 2011 US Women's Open title. She also took home US$405,000.

Ryu, whose last tour win had come in August 2014 at the Canadian Pacific Women's Open, moved up a spot to No. 2 in the latest world rankings, behind Lydia Ko.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 04, 2017, with the headline 'Ryu stays focused but feels win is weird'. Print Edition | Subscribe