It’s amazing what a little rest and relaxation can do.
Saturday, So Yeon Ryu carded a second round 10-under par, 61 at Pinnacle Country Club to lead the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship presented by P&G. Ryu’s bogey-free round sets a new Tournament record and 36-hole record at 16-under par. Ryu’s round of 61 matches her career low, which she shot once before at the 2012 Australian Ladies Masters. She holds a five-stroke lead ahead of Moriya Jutanugarn and Stacy Lewis at 11-under par.
“It was so much fun,” Ryu said after her round. “I made a really long putt at 8, 17, and then I boost up and the shot was getting better and better. At the back nine, I was able to make some more short birdies, and then pretty much made all of them. So happy with my round today.”
Ryu took the last two weeks off. It was a much needed break for the world’s third ranked player who missed her first cut since 2014 at the ShopRite LPGA Classic, which ended the longest active running cut streak on Tour. During that time off, the two-time major champion reunited with Ian Baker-Finch who has advised Ryu on her short game over the past few years. Their work was as much about Ryu’s putting as it was on renewing her belief in herself.
“I played really well the beginning of this year, then I didn’t really play well at the last championship, kind of lost confidence a little bit,” Ryu said about her missed cut. “But I think it was great to have two weeks off, because when you have two weeks off you totally forget about how you played the last few tournaments.”
Conditions were calm on Saturday morning, just as they had been for the leaders on Friday, and Ryu took advantage by staying focused on the moment, not on shooting 59.
“When I hit really low score, one thing I learn is I never see the big picture. I only focus on my ball, only on one hole, instead of thinking of the whole thing,” Ryu explained about her mindset on Saturday. “I think that’s the main key, just, do not think about your career low score or win the tournament, just be the best. That’s the best way to play well.”
When Lydia Ko won in 2016 she set a new 54-hole Tournament record at 17-under par, a total that’s likely to be shattered on Sunday if Ryu continues on her current tear.
“I think after you shot like, 6-under and 10-under and next round going to be really tough because no matter how well you play, it’s not going to be great enough compared to 10-under and 6-under,” Ryu told the media. “I want to keep my same attitude tomorrow, think about the present, think about my own ball and think about this hole instead of thinking about whole thing.”
Jutanugarn put herself in familiar territory heading into Sunday, contending in her fourth consecutive start on Tour. She followed her day one 66 with a 65 on Saturday to sit in a share of second, five-back of Ryu.
“I’m pretty sure all the fans are wanting to go out and see us making birdies, and it’s…