The LPGA Classic Marathon will always have a special place in the heart of So Yeon Ryu. After earning LPGA Tour membership with a win at the 2011 US Women’s Open, Ryu became a Rolex First Time Winner en route to Louise Sugg’s 2012 Rolex Rookie of the Year with a dominant seven-stroke win at Highland Meadows .
“I’ve really wanted to win every tournament since joining the LPGA Tour, and this was the first time I won the tournament as an LPGA member later. “Then I think if you want to win a tournament you play with more pressure and then I was so happy that I was able to get through this difficult time to win the trophy.”
Ryu missed the 2020 tournament and chose to stay at home in Korea when the LPGA Tour started playing again after the pandemic shutdown. She didn’t see Highland Meadows without the usual large development around the 18th green and the throngs of daily fans, vivid memories of the difficult circumstances of 2020. When Ryu returned in December, the tour was a very different place than it was she had last seen it.
“When I first came to the US in December last year, I suddenly felt like a rookie,” she said. “I’ve gotten used to it and I feel like we’re getting better and better and I know we’re doing our best to get through this pandemic time.”
It actually gets better, with fans off the ropes, smaller pro-am parties, and autograph seekers getting back to everyday life. Ryu has never finished below 35th place at Highland Meadows, with three top 10 finishes. And for Ryu, the fans are definitely an important part of her Toledo success.
“I think I just got used to playing without fans, but as soon as I got fans back I was like, okay, that’s what I’m missing. I knew I missed it, but I could definitely see that I missed it, ”Ryu said. “It was so nice to have all the support, and especially the local people in Toledo, who supported us so nicely. They are always the great fans who look forward to playing good golf in front of the local fans. “