CHICAGO: New world No.1 Ryu So-Yeon of South Korea hopes to celebrate her achievement by winning her second consecutive major title at the Women’s PGA Championship that begins Thursday (Friday in Manila).
The first round at Olympia Fields Country Club outside Chicago falls on Ryu’s 27th birthday.
Ryu ascended to the top of the rankings, dethroning Thailand’s Ariya Jutanugarn, by winning last week’s Northwest Arkansas Championship for her second title of the year.
She won the season’s first major tournament, the ANA Inspiration at Rancho Mirage, in April for her second career major title after capturing the 2011 US Women’s Open.
“I actually still cannot believe it,” Ryu said. “I always dreamed about being number one. Here I am, I’ve finally become number one. Dreams come true. I’m living in a dream.”
She’s also the only player with more than one LPGA title this season.
“I’m really thrilled to have won twice already on the LPGA this year,” Ryu said. “Last week I got a lot of confidence to play this major tournament.
“I think this week it’s really important to (hit) great iron shots and my iron shots have been really great. I feel pretty comfortable playing this golf course.”
Among the elite field of 155 players — which includes the top 100 LPGA money winners this season — are 26 major winners who have won a combined 53 major titles.
Olympia Fields, a par-71 layout playing at 6,588 yards this week, boasts such past event winners as US men’s legends Walter Hagen and Jack Nicklaus.
Defending champion Brooke Henderson of Canada became the second youngest player to win a women’s major by taking last year’s crown at age 18.
Also in the hunt will be Jutanugarn, three-time champion Inbee Park of South Korea and world number three Lydia Ko of New Zealand.
Jutanugarn has won at Olympia Fields, taking the 2011 US Girls’ Junior Championship.
Ko, still seeking her first victory of the season, says she is more concerned with finding consistency than retaking the world number one ranking.
“There might be a little less pressure on me now because some of the other girls are playing to such great standards,” Ko said.
“I’m trying to stay positive and I’m thinking more about how can I be more consistent and put myself in contention rather than thinking about, ‘Hey, I really want to be the No. 1 ranked player again.’”
This is the first of three women’s major tournaments in a six-week span. The US Women’s Open is in two weeks at Trump National in Bedminster, New Jersey and the Women’s British Open at Kingsbarns in Fife, Scotland, will be contested in early August.