So Yeon Ryu spent Monday morning explaining the science of golf to a group of Toledo elementary school students.
Before she boarded an afternoon flight to New York City, Ryu got the chance to scout out the greens at Highland Meadows Golf Club in Sylvania, which will host the LPGA’s Marathon Classic from July 18-21.
Ryu won last year’s Marathon Classic — known then as the Jamie Farr Toledo Classic — at Highland Meadows with the help of six straight birdies on the final day, and she won the title by seven strokes over Angela Stanford.
“After I won the U.S. Women’s open in 2011, I hadn’t won any tournaments,” Ryu said after a luncheon at Highland Meadows.
“After I won this tournament, I got of confidence. It helped me the rest of the year, last year. This tournament was really, really helpful.”
Ryu made the cut in 23 of the LPGA’s 24 events in 2012 and had 15 top-10 finishes last season. In 11 LPGA events this season, Ryu is sixth in the Rolex world rankings and ninth on the money list ($408,221) as she prepares to enter the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship Presented by P&G, held June 21-23 in Rogers, Ark.
The 22-year-old did not make the cut last weekend in the Wegmans LPGA Championship in Pittsford, N.Y. Yet Monday morning at Spring Elementary School in Toledo, she worked with the Imagination Station as part of an educational presentation about golf, which included explaining the layers of a golf ball and the need for up to 14 different clubs in a golfer’s bag.
“A lot of people know that there’s a science to the sport, but people don’t know why there are dimples on the ball or why all the golf clubs are different,” Ryu said. “I explained about the golf science to the students. It was really nice to introduce golf to the kids.”
Ryu divulged not only her interest in science but also in travel, fashion, music, and sports — a native of South Korea, she is a Southern California resident, an avid fan of the Los Angeles Dodgers, and recently became a fan of the NHL.
“America’s big thing is that it’s really great to enjoy the sports,” Ryu said. “My professional sport is golf, but we can learn a lot of things about sports like soccer, baseball, basketball. All professional athletes have their theory: How can we play well? How can we keep the mind clear? I learn a lot from all the different types of athletes.”
Judd Silverman, executive director of the Marathon Classic, believes that Ryu’s multidimensional personality is important for the LPGA and for the profile of the Sylvania tournament.
“We talk about sports figures and personalities and I think someone like So Yeon, she’s multitalented, a very interesting person that, once you get to know her, she’s phenomenal,” Silverman said. “She’s a college graduate, she’s a two-time winner on the Tour, an accomplished musician on the piano and violin, and she does it with a smile on her face. That’s refreshing from a professional athlete. She does it it with such grace.”
Ryu, though, keeps in mind her goal as a professional athlete.
“Every professional sport, people only remember No. 1,” Ryu said. “People only remember the champions. That’s why everyone really wants to win. That’s why I really want to win.
“I won this tournament, and I got a title as an LPGA member because I won the U.S. Women’s Open [in 2011] as a non-member. That made me think, I can do this again.”
Contact Rachel Lenzi at: firstname.lastname@example.org, 419-724-6510, or on Twitter @RLenziBlade.