So Yeon Ryu: Golfer and LPGA Tour Star

So Yeon Ryu plays her shot during the second round of the 2018 Swinging Skirts LPGA Taiwan Championship.

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Golfer So Yeon Ryu honed her game in her native South Korea, winning multiple titles on the LPGA of Korea Tour. Then she burst onto the international golf scene by winning the biggest tournament in women's golf. Today, she is a star on the LPGA Tour and one of the best pro golfers playing today.

Fast Facts: So Yeon Ryu

  • Occupation: Golfer
  • Born: June 29, 1990 in South Korea
  • Education: Graduated from Yonsei University with a degree in sports business
  • Key Accomplishments: Winner of two major championship tournaments; reached No. 1 in the world golf rankings
  • Fun Fact: Ryu owns two golf simulator shops in Seoul.

Early Golf Career

Ryu's focus during childhood was originally on music: She played the violin, flute and piano. But after taking up golf as part of a school program in second grade, Ryu turned her attention to the sport.

By age 14, Ryu advanced onto the Korean National Golf Team. During the three years (2005-07) she was a member, Ryu represented South Korea at the 2006 Asian Games and won gold medals in both the individual and team tournaments. She turned pro late in 2007 at the age of 17. Her first professional win happened in the United States, where she was training, in February 2008, on an Arizona mini-tour.

When Ryu returned to Korea, she joined the Korean LPGA Tour. Then, she won the first tournament she played on the KLPGA, the Sports Seoul Open, en route to earning the Rookie of the Year Award. In 2009, Ryu won five times on the KLPGA. She also made a handful of appearances on the LPGA Tour from 2008-10.

However, what made Ryu an international star was winning the 2011 U.S. Women's Open. Through that victory, she gained membership on the LPGA Tour. In 2012, she joined the U.S. tour.

Joining the LPGA Tour

Just as she did in her first KLPGA season, Ryu won the Rookie of the Year Award in her first LPGA Tour season. Her first win on the LPGA took place at the 2012 Jamie Farr Toledo Classic.

Ryu established herself as one of the best and most consistent golfers on the tour, winning again at the 2014 Canadian Pacific Women's Open.

Golfer So Yeon Ryu plays a bunker shot during the 2018 CME Group Tour Championship.
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In 2017, Ryu had her second major championship win at the 2017 ANA Inspiration. She was the tour's co-Player of the Year for 2017. In June 2017, she reached No. 1 in the world rankings for the first time upon winning the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship.

In September 2018, Ryu won the biggest tournament on the LPGA of Japan Tour, the Japan Women's Open Golf Championship. Ryu has been in the Top 10 of the world rankings at the end of the year every year since 2012, with a highest year-end finish of third in both 2017 and 2018.

Major Championships

Ryu earned both her major championship wins so far in playoffs. At the 2011 U.S. Women's Open, she birdied the final hole of regulation to tie clubhouse leader Hee Kyung Seo and force a three-hole playoff. Then Ryu birdied the final hole again to claim the trophy. (Ryu had beaten Seo in another playoff two years earlier to win one of her KLPGA titles.)

So Yeon Ryu pictured during the final round of the 2011 U.S. Women's Open.
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At the 2017 ANA Inspiration, a controversial four-stroke penalty assessed midway through the final round against leader Lexi Thompson opened the door. Ryu took advantage and finished the 72nd hole tied with Thompson. In the sudden-death playoff, Ryu won with a birdie on the first hole.

Ryu also made a playoff at the 2018 KPMG Women's PGA Championship, another major, but fell to Sung-Hyun Park on the second hole.

So Yeon Ryu's Pro Tournament Wins

Through the end of the 2018 season, Ryu has six wins on the LPGA Tour:

  • 2011 U.S. Women's Open
  • 2012 Jamie Farr Toledo Classic
  • 2014 Canadian Pacific Women's Open
  • 2017 ANA Inspiration
  • 2017 Walmart NW Arkansas Championship
  • 2018 Meijer LPGA Classic

Ryu has also earned nine wins on the LPGA of Korea Tour:

  • 2008 Sports Seoul-KYJ Golf Open
  • 2009 Doosan Match Play Championship
  • 2009 Woori Investment & Securities Ladies Championship
  • 2009 MBC Tour S-Oil Champions Invitational
  • 2009 SBS Charity Women’s Open
  • 2009 Orient China Ladies Open
  • 2011 SBS Tour Lotte Cantata Ladies Open
  • 2012 Hanwha Finance Classic
  • 2015 High1 Resort Ladies Open

Ryu has one win on the LPGA of Japan Tour and one win on the Ladies European Tour. She was part of the winning South Korea team at the LPGA's 2018 International Crown team tournament.

So Yeon Ryu's Golf Clubs

Ryu's golf clubs are predominantly Honma. Honma Golf is one of the premiere Asian golf brands. Ryu plays Honma irons and driver, and mostly Honma fairway woods and wedges. However, she sometimes includes in her bag a TaylorMade fairway wood and a Titleist Vokey wedge. Ryu plays a Titleist Pro-V1 golf ball and uses a Titleist Scotty Cameron Newport 2 putter.