It’s not until it happens that thoughts of being sidelined for a lengthy time or even plaguing an entire career begin to creep in for an athlete. And with it come the concerns that the injury might inhibit an athlete from reaching full recovery and performing at an elite level again.
For Jiyai Shin, someone who recently saw the sidelines for the third time in her LPGA career, an injury provides extra motivation to come back firing on all cylinders.
Shin began her LPGA campaign with booming success. She won three times in 2008 prior to becoming a member of the Tour. She then followed up by earning Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year in 2009 and five victories in her first two seasons. But the South Korean took a nearly two month hiatus from the Tour in 2011 to nurse an injured back. Although it was her first and only season to not claim a victory, she still managed to finish the season with seven top-10s and ranked 15th on the money list.
Last season, Shin came back from a two-month break after having surgery on her wrist and surprised the golf world as she claimed back-to-back wins at the Kingsmill Championship and the RICOH Women’s British Open.
So, what’s her secret? Apparently, nothing more than just a simple urge to be on the course and a slight fear of missing out.
“Whenever I am injured, when I’m watching other players playing on TV, it makes me want to be there and be playing and want my recovery to go quickly,” says Shin.
“But the biggest thing is when I break for one or two months my body feels refreshed. It makes me more hungry to get back to play.”
Shin recently took a few weeks off from the Tour to rest a backache she felt coming on earlier this season, something she attributes to her desire to hit longer off the tee.
“My driving distance is not too long, so sometimes when golfers want to hit it long you twist your body a lot more,” said Shin. “So my body was getting tired to make (the ball) go longer. I know my strength is accuracy, so now I’m more focused on that now instead of long hitting.”
Shin enters the week looking to tally her 44th consecutive made cut over the span of three years, with the highest hopes of defending her title. She says she's more than ready to tackle the River Course at Kingsmill Resort, especially the 18th hole.
“I’m sure I know the 18th hole really well, because last year I played it 13 times,” said Shin with a laugh as she recalls the dramatic two-day, 9-hole playoff that resulted in her victory. “I’m really confident with that hole. I have great memories at Kingsmill and I’m excited to go back.”
Shin started off the 2013 season with a win at the season-opener in Australia, her 11th career victory. Currently seated at No. 7 in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings, Shin says her main focus for the rest of the year is earning an award at the end of the season that has never been claimed by a South Korean.
“My goal this year is to get Player of the Year,” said Shin. “There are a lot of Korean players on the LPGA Tour; we haven’t gotten Player of the Year yet. I want to try for that. This year we have five major tournaments and I think I’ll have a chance this season.”