"I transferred from the KLPGA to the LPGA and people started to recognize me," she says. "I moved to the U.S. and I am now based in California. That was a pretty big change, relocating to another country."
A keen student
Despite moving, Ryu continued studying physical education at Yonsei University, a private institution and the oldest of her country, and graduated in February this year with a bachelor's degree in sports management..
"I could not and would not trade my university life for anything. It was such a great time for me," she says.
"Sometimes I couldn't sleep during a tournament because of assignments. I had to wake up early if I wanted to practice before going to class. Physically, it was a hard job but it was worth it."
That work ethic goes some way to explaining the success of Korean women golfers and Ryu is now hoping that she can inspire new generations of young players like Pak and Kim did for her.
"I'd love to be someone's role model. I want to share my experience and heart," says the golfer, who finished second behind compatriot and close friend Inbee Park at this season's opening major, the Kraft-Nabisco Championship in April,.
"I would like to donate to poor people or junior golfers. I really want to support young golfers, not as an instructor but as a manager."
The best decision
Ryu's determination at age 12 has led her to become one of the best players in women's golf; she currently sits fifth in the Rolex world rankings, just behind Choi, while Park is No. 1 after also winning this month's LPGA Championship.
Last weekend the two friends battled for victory at the NW Arkansas Championship event, with Park beating Ryu in a playoff to claim her fifth win this season.
"Inbee and I practice together a lot so when we are standing at the 18th hole, it feels like just a practice round," Ryu told reporters. "I wasn't really nervous. Two players cannot be champion, so she deserved it."
Ryu was named 2012's LPGA Rookie of the Year, having won the 11th title of her pro career by a massive seven shots at the Jamie Farr Toldeo Classic.
Her love for music is still alive, and Ryu acknowledges that it "is too hard" to even think of trading her accomplishments in golf for a night as concertmaster of the Berlin Philharmonic or Amsterdam's Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra.
Her mother, who once was not satisfied with her daughter's decision, is now "so happy that I am a professional golfer."
And it was from her mom that she received the advice that has shaped her career: "Enjoy your life."