Consummate pro
Playoff survivor

The first major of the year on the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) Tour is the ANA Inspiration. Held in late March and early April at Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage, California, the tournament attracts huge interest not only as a marker for the coming season but also for its traditional theatrics. At the end of the event, the champion takes a winning jump into Poppie's Pond next to the 18th green, then dons a bathrobe for the trophy presentation. This year, the woman who bathed in glory was So Yeon Ryu of the Republic of Korea.

"I jumped in the pond with my mom and little sister, as well as the caddy who had been with me for the previous six years, since my days as a tour rookie. It was a special experience to share the joy of finally winning a big title again with important people in my life. I'll never forget it!"

So Yeon won the title by beating U.S. rival Lexi Thompson in a sudden-death playoff.

"I was able to force a playoff only because Lexi received a four-stroke penalty the previous day. It was an uncomfortable situation. Everybody sympathized with Lexi, and lots of people in the gallery were calling out her name. This was in her country, after all."

For So Yeon, the playoff seemed a long way from home.

"I felt an incredible amount of pressure in that situation. All I could do was play my own game as a professional. I knew I'd put in the required effort and improved enough to win a major title. I was also confident of my ability to concentrate on my own game. I've always been the kind of person who enjoys pressure, but I think I was especially good at handling the tension on that final hole."

So Yeon believes that pushing yourself to the limit in every situation is the sign of a true professional.

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