Twelve months ago, In Gee Chun made golf history with a stunning wire-to-wire victory at the Evian Championship where she set a major championship scoring record (for both men and women) with a 21-under-par total (263) after four rounds. The LPGA Tour rookie fired scores of 63, 66, 65 and 69 to finish four shots clear of compatriots So Yeon Ryu and Sung Hyun Park and land her second major crown, having claimed her first at the 2015 U.S. Women's Open. As In Gee prepares for her title defense this week at the beautiful Evian Resort Golf Club, she sat down with LPGA.com for a Q&A session.
Q. In Gee, at last year's Evian Championship you astonished the golf world by shooting a major championship low total of 21-under-par – a record for both men and women. What is your strongest memory of that week, and what was the best part of your game over all four days?
A. My memories from last year’s Evian Championship are still vivid – my shots went in the direction I wanted and my putter felt great that week. During the four days of the tournament, everything worked out beyond my expectation. Every day spent in the town of Evian was new, different and meaningful, so it’s difficult to say that I had just one single memory from that week.
Q. How much were you thinking about the possibility of setting a major championship record as you headed into the final round at Evian Resort Golf Club last year? (In Gee had tied the record at 19-under after 54 holes).
A. Before my final round, I was asked many questions about the possibility of setting a major championship record. So I started my final round knowing what score I had to hit in order to set a record. This made it impossible not to think about my score during that round, but I tried to focus more on the process than the result. Plus it rained on the final day, so I told myself to just enjoy the process.
Q. Last year, you were a rookie on the LPGA Tour. How much more pressure and nerves do you feel when you play in major championships versus regular LPGA Tour events, and does the overall challenge get any easier through experience?
A. I think all players feel the same way and want to win major titles. But I don’t feel particularly more pressure during the majors. Last season, I was busy figuring everything out as a rookie. But this season, there are undoubtedly parts of myself that have changed compared to last season. For example, I miss Korea but being abroad, there are still new and novel moments which make it fun. Yet every season is different and I have begun to wonder how next season may also be different.
Q. Prior to your victory at Evian Resort Golf Club last year, you had tied for 65th at the 2014 Evian Championship and then you missed the cut in the 2015 edition. Did you like Evian Resort Golf Club the very first time you played the course, and how well does the layout there set up for your game?
A. I don’t think a course layout is particularly important because all players are playing the same field and same conditions. I learned to positively accept any given condition and this mindset worked well for me last season, enabling me to have good outcomes. I previously didn’t fully understand what it meant to positively accept any given condition, including the course layout, but this is something I’d like to tell younger, junior golfers.
Q. You have won twice on the LPGA Tour but so far this year you have not been able to add a third title despite several close calls - eight top-10 finishes, including five runner-up spots. Is there anything you feel that you could have done better to land another title?
A. Scores are important in golf but it is important for me to have a happy season. I see these scores as variables in solving my equation to achieve a happy season and I look forward to the rest of the season.
Q. You have already achieved a great deal in golf; not only are you a double champion on the LPGA Tour but you have won nine times on the LPGA of Korea Tour and twice on the LPGA of Japan Tour. What are your biggest goals now in golf?
A. Golf is a career for professional golfers and life on the Tour is like a workplace. It is my dream to be a happy professional golfer. I am constantly thinking and learning what I need to do beyond my score to achieve happiness.