COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – South Korea’s So Yeon Ryu told nearly all of her story in English after winning the U.S. Women’s Open Monday at The Broadmoor.
Fellow countrywoman Hee Kyung Seo explained how she lost the playoff in fluent English.
The stellar shot making didn’t just impress Hall of Famer Se Ri Pak in the aftermath, so did the language Ryu and Seo used to tell their stories.
“That’s a huge change from six or seven years ago,” Pak said. “That’s an amazing change.”
Folks who believe South Korean dominance of the LPGA creates a disconnect with the American fan base should take a closer look at Ryu and Seo. The attractive, young duo brought a dynamic presence to the championship’s finish and storylines they were able to communicate on their own terms to American audiences.
Ryu, 21, is doing exactly what Michelle Wie’s doing in South Korea. She’s playing professionally while going to college. She won the U.S. Women’s Open amid her junior year at Yonsei University. She’s studying physical education there.
Ryu, a six-time Korean LPGA Tour winner, advanced to the U.S. Women’s Open as one of the top five money winners on KLPGA Tour, but her victory Monday gives her the option of taking up LPGA membership this year or waiting and using her exemption next year. She isn’t sure what she’ll do, given her interest in finishing school.
“I must decide,” she said.
Seo, 24, is known as “Supermodel of the Fairways” in South Korea. She’s an 11-time Korean LPGA winner who took up LPGA membership by virtue of winning the Kia Classic last year.
Seo said her mother started teaching her English when she was in the first grade. Her fluency accelerated when she spent a year in the United States when she was 10 with her aunt and uncle, who were studying at Kansas University.
Ryu has an English teacher who’s helping accelerate her understanding of the language.
Given the debacle that followed the LPGA’s proposal three years ago to compel Asians on tour to learn English, it’s a notable sidebar to this U.S. Women’s Open victory.