OLYMPIA FIELDS, Ill. – So Yeon Ryu sat alone on a shuttle bus headed back from Wrigley Field to the drop-off point in Tinley Park. It had been a long day for the newly-minted World No. 1, who’d gone from pro-am to press conference to a welcome reception in a black dress and heels. She was still smiling when the lights popped on as the bus rolled in. Ryu thanked the driver as she walked down the stairs.
Not much had changed for the elegant Ryu in the 48 hours she’d been No. 1. She expects more interviews and more autographs at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship. But so far, the added pressure and responsibility haven’t set in.
There’s a tussle at the top right now on the LPGA. After Lydia Ko spent 85 consecutive weeks at the top, Ariya Jutanguarn ousted her on June 12 after a victory at the Manulife LPGA Classic. Jutanugarn’s reign lasted only two weeks, however, as Ryu took over on June 26, becoming the first repeat winner of the 2017 season.
Add Lexi Thompson (No. 4) and In Gee Chun (No. 5) to the mix and the No. 1 ranking could be a free-for-all the rest of the year.
It’s reminiscent of the 2010 season, when Lorena Ochoa abruptly retired in April, leaving Cristie Kerr, Ai Miyazato and Jiyai Shin to pass the honor back and forth until Yani Tseng began her era of dominance in 2011.
Ryu is the 11th player, and third South Korean, to ascend to No. 1 since the Rolex Rankings debuted in February 2006.
Ryu happened to be celebrating her victory with Park at Ruth’s Chris Steak House in Arkansas when word came that she had taken over the top spot. Ryu was relatively new to the LPGA scene when her best friend, Park, began her reign as No. 1.
“You’re the one always celebrating all good things with me,” Park told Ryu on Sunday. “I’m so glad I can be with you when you have a really good time.”
In Park, Ryu got a front-row seat to what it takes to dominate the majors and build an LPGA Hall of Fame career in short order. She saw how hard Park…