Nordqvist, Ryu fine-tune games ahead of Evian

USA TODAY International Edition - - SPORTS - Beth Ann Ni­chols Golfweek | USA TO­DAY Net­work

For the best in the game, the learn­ing never stops. Anna Nordqvist won the sec­ond ma­jor of her ca­reer last year at the Evian Cham­pi­onship, bat­tling cold and hail in the most pe­cu­liar of play­offs against Brit­tany Al­tomare. Those eight years in be­tween ma­jors felt like a life­time to the steely Swede.

Dur­ing the off­sea­son, Nordqvist dove deeper into work with new swing coach Cameron McCormick, mak­ing sev­eral trips to Dal­las. While pos­i­tive about the di­rec­tion they were headed early in the spring, by the U.S. Women’s Open, the eight-time win­ner had de­vel­oped a twoway miss, and the pair parted ways.

The con­sis­tency in her ball-strik­ing, al­ways a hall­mark of Nordqvist’s game, wasn’t quite there. She has ranked in the top three in greens in reg­u­la­tion on the LPGA since 2014. She’s cur­rently 11th in GIR and 25th in driv­ing ac­cu­racy.

Nordqvist heads to this week’s Evian Cham­pi­onship be­gin­ning Thurs­day in Evian-les-Bains, France, with­out a swing coach, some­thing she tried in

2017.

“It was al­ways a ques­tion of try­ing to get bet­ter and try­ing to im­prove on things, but it didn’t quite work out the way I was hop­ing for,” Nordqvist said. “So just made the de­ci­sion to trust my­self a lit­tle bit more, and I’m go­ing with­out a swing coach. I have a few peo­ple around me that I seek ad­vice from, but this is my 10th year as a pro, and I feel like I’ve come to a point where it’s so easy to seek help from ev­ery­one else when re­ally you do have a lot of an­swers within your­self. I feel like I rec­og­nize my­self again a lit­tle bit more in my ball­strik­ing and the way I play the game.”

While Nordqvist went back to ba­sics on her golf swing, an­other two-time ma­jor win­ner and player to watch this week, So Yeon Ryu, did the same in her mind. Ryu has had streaks of suc­cess but would char­ac­ter­ize this season as her most in­con­sis­tent.

Af­ter a Sun­day let­down at the Ri­coh Women’s Bri­tish Open last month, Ryu felt burned out when she re­turned to the tour.

Upon deeper re­flec­tion, Ryu said she hadn’t put her full ef­fort into prepa­ra­tion. “When I played in Port­land, I re­al­ized how much I love the game and how much I love to work hard to im­prove my­self,” Ryu said of the Port­land tour stop two weeks ago.

“How much I love play­ing golf. And then I re­al­ized I was al­ways a per­son that cared about the process more in­stead of the re­sult. … So right now I’m just to­tally re­set­ting for ev­ery­thing, prepar­ing for the Evian, and hope­fully my new mind-set is go­ing to make me more en­joy the golf.”

There’s some­thing en­er­giz­ing about hav­ing a new plan, a new mind-set.

Ryu, like Nordqvist, loves the grind. The South Korean star cred­its McCormick for mak­ing her a more well-rounded ma­jor player. Learn­ing how to shape shots has made Ryu a threat in any type of con­di­tion.

“It’s like Bubba Wat­son,” Ryu said. “I just feel like it’s more en­joy­able to play like a draw shot, like a fade shot, low shot, high shot. I think that’s the part of the game I re­ally en­joy right now.”

To find suc­cess at Evian, a course that’s built on the side of a moun­tain, Ryu points to ac­cu­racy off the tee and a deep arse­nal of short-game shots.

With the slopes so se­vere and ever present, Nordqvist says it’s im­por­tant to place ap­proach shots on the right side of the flags. And, as al­ways, miss it in the right spot.

In her quest to get back to fun­da­men­tals, Nordqvist changed her pos­ture and setup to feel more ath­letic over the ball. Her con­sis­tency in the past was due in part to keep­ing her swing com­pact with lit­tle move­ment.

There’s no such thing as stand­ing still in golf. No iden­ti­cal jour­neys.

Two tal­ented play­ers sought out the same in­struc­tor and had differing re­sults. Now they re­turn to the most pic­turesque of ma­jors, hav­ing been to the draw­ing board for the umpteenth time, ea­ger to put what they’ve learned into prac­tice.

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