Ryu drives her way to share lead at Mediheal

Ryu So-yeon hits on the 18th hole during the first round of the LPGA Mediheal Championships at Lake Merced Golf Club in Daly City, California, on May 2, 2019.
Ryu So-yeon hits on the 18th hole during the first round of the LPGA Mediheal Championships at Lake Merced Golf Club in Daly City, California, on May 2, 2019. PHOTO: AFP

LOS ANGELES - Former US Women's Open champion Ryu So-yeon believes that driving the ball well is the most important factor in getting good putts at the Mediheal Championship.

The South Korean tallied seven birdies and two bogeys en route to a five-under 67 and a share of the lead with Ji Eun-hee and Anne van Dam on Thursday.

Ryu could have grabbed sole possession of the lead, but she closed her round with a bogey on the par-five ninth hole at the Lake Merced golf course.

"To be honest, we have a lot of golf courses where it's really more of a putting contest," she said.

"This golf course is definitely not a putting contest. For sure, you have to putt well but, if you're not a great ball-striker, you aren't going to get many birdie putts. It is not an easy golf course. You have to drive the ball really well."

Ryu, 28, has six LPGA Tour victories, winning Major titles in the 2011 US Women's Open and 2017 ANA Inspiration.

She has had some struggles this year - her best finish was a tie for ninth at the Lotte Championship last month - but she is trying to maintain a positive mindset.

"It's really tough, because when you're dedicated to make your game better and better, and then when you cannot really see the result right away, it can be really easy to get frustrated," the former world No. 1 added.

"The thing is, it's just golf. Nothing's really guaranteed."

The long-hitting van Dam two-putted for birdie on the par-five 18th to cap her round of 67.

Van Dam, who teed off in the afternoon, bogeyed two of the first four holes. The 23-year-old Dutchwoman stormed back with an eagle on the par-four eighth and five birdies to match morning starters Ryu and Ji, who had six birdies and a bogey.

"It's a really nice golf course, it's really challenging on every hole, especially on the tee shot," said Ji, echoing her compatriot Ryu's thoughts.

"You have to hit the fairways. If not, it gets into trouble on the next shot. So the tee shot is really important.

"The greens are really tough, you have to read perfect lines."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 04, 2019, with the headline 'Ryu drives her way to share lead at Mediheal'. Print Edition | Subscribe