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InGee Chun Climbs to Top of Leaderboard

Posts impressive score of 66 — Takes sole possession of the lead

 

InGee Chun is a decorated player from South Korea, having recorded 17 victories worldwide. Her victories include — 10 x KLPGA (Korea), 2 x JLPGA (Japan), 1 x LET (Europe) win to go with her 4 x LPGA wins. A funny thing about her LPGA wins is that 3 of her 4 wins are major championships. She may not win many tournaments on the LPGA, but she sure seems to know how to win major championships – after all it was a little over a month ago that she won her 3rd major, emerging victorious at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship (at Congressional Country Club). So, it really shouldn’t be a surprise to see her at the top of the leaderboard at Muirfield given her form over the past couple of months.

In Gee Chun's biographical photo
In Gee Chun has spoken out in the past about her depression and fighting through it

She entered today’s round with a share of 5th place, posting a very respectable 68 (–3 under) yesterday under some blustery conditions. Today, with the wind much less a factor, Chun was able to take advantage of the benign conditions. She posted 6-birdies on the day with the only blemish coming on the par 4, 6th hole for a round of 66 (–5 under). Her two day score of –8 under was good for sole possession of the top spot.

The keys to her round today were avoiding the big mistakes and clutch putting. She only managed to hit 50% of the fairways, but when she missed, she missed in spots that allowed her to still manage par. Her approach shots were marginally better, hitting 12 of 18 Greens in Regulation, forcing her to save par on six different occasions. For Chun, putting was the difference – comfortably two putting when needed and making clutch birdie putts when opportunities presented themselves. Her putting performance did not go unnoticed by her playing partners either, eliciting a comment from Jessica Korda on the 18th green about wanting a putting lesson from Chun.

 
In Gee Chun gives a short wave of appreciation to fans applauding her putt
Chun's putting has been an important element to her game this week, averaging only 26 putts per round
 

“Yeah, and then also during the round, Jessica said she love to hear my sound from my swing. And I said sometimes I watch your swing on Instagram, because I heard that mentioned from other players. It’s always good to play with her. So, I had a great time with her.”

She also came to Muirfield with a different gameplan as to how she would play the course and contend with the conditions. Her caddie suggested a side bet between them that for each round that Chun could go bogey free, her caddie would pay her $100 and treat her to dinner. It’s a strategy that appears to have helped her focus.

“Before I start (the) tournament, my caddie and I talked about the course. After that, we had a little bit of betting. If I make the bogey-free round, he’s going to buy dinner and pay me like $100 for each day I can make it. So, before I start (the) round, I always like setting another goal to make a bogey-free round. I think that mindset was help(ing) a lot on the course.”

In Gee Chun with a fist pump after sinking an important putt
Chun showing a little emotion with a fist pump after sinking an important putt

It’s a remarkable turn of events for Chun, who as recently as March of last year, shared her thoughts with reporters about depression and the slump she had been in a for the previous couple of seasons — after her big win at the 2016 Evian Championship. The expectations and pressure from setting a record for lowest score to par at a major tournament eventually proved to be debilitating. At the time, she said “when I got depression, my parents and my coach and friends – they tried to help me a lot. But, when I got depression, I couldn’t hear what they said so … that hurt them.”

It appears that she turned the corner in 2021, putting her firmly on an upward trajectory as both her play and results improved. And with that, so did her mental outlook. Her victory at the KPMG Women’s Open in June appears to be the pinnacle of her renaissance so far. Now, here she is 5-weeks later, and she finds herself the leader at the halfway point of the last major of the season. Regardless of whether she wins or loses, this season has already been a major success for InGee Chun.

 

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