Two-time major champion, In Gee Chun shared her deeply personal experience
With the recent resurgence of In Gee Chun’s play this season, some started to wonder if she had been playing through injury previously. Earlier this season, she spoke about her depression and the effects that her mood was having on her on and off the golf course. She elaborated on it even more at Tuesday’s media day for the LPGA’s Kia Classic.
The two-time major champion told the gathered media reporters that she had been experiencing depression throughout much of the past few years. In response to a question about her mental approach to golf and dealing with depression, Chun said that everyone on her team was working hard but that she was having trouble dealing with the pressures of playing on tour and maintaining perspective.
“When I try and work too hard, I feel … more pressure … it was a lot of pressure … so, I couldn’t enjoy the process. Because I couldn’t enjoy playing golf, I practice trying to make golf more enjoyable. I trust myself; I’m all good on the process, so I don’t think about results, just staying present . . . so, now I have a good balance …in my life.”
Talking about depression and mental health has traditionally not been that common in many East Asian cultures which can often exacerbate the condition. For Chun, she described her depression as a place where she felt like she couldn’t get back to normal, “when I got negative, I just didn’t want to have to do (much) … but now, I make myself try things.” For Chun, it was frustrating to be dealing with depression and the effect that it was having on those close to her, “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”.
Things gradually started improving after working with her swing coach who also acts as her mental coach.
“So he taught me a lot of positive things. I couldn’t hurt my ears to open (them) a little bit. I really appreciate them. I think without them I couldn’t get back to ‘normal In Gee’. I really appreciate my friends and my family and my coach and my manager.”
She also credited some of the developments in her personal life for bringing stability, having bought a house in the offseason near fellow tour player Sei Young Kim. After settling in, buying furniture and making her house a home, she enjoyed some social time. “Sei Young and I had a housewarming party. I got lots of presents from my friends . . . it was nice to play (with the household appliances).”
With an improvement in her mental health, her play has improved significantly this season. Playing in all three events so far, Chun has three top 10’s and appears to be playing more like ‘normal In Gee’ which could bode very well for her with the ANA Inspiration on the immediate horizon. After all, it is a bit of a daunting prospect of having to compete for a championship with In Gee Chun in the field, especially the In Gee that won the US Women's Open and then the Evian Championship in record setting fashion.