There is very little that Colin Cann has not witnessed on a golf course during a stellar caddying career that has seen him celebrate a total of 41 LPGA Tour victories in partnership with high-profile players such as Annika Sorenstam, Se Ri Pak and Paula Creamer.
Yet even he was taken aback by the sheer grit and determination, coupled with a superb all-round game throughout the week, that helped In Gee Chun end a slump of sorts with a highly emotional win at the LPGA KEB Hana Bank Championship in Incheon on Sunday.
Korean Chun carded successive 6-under 66s over the weekend to triumph by three shots on the Ocean Course at SKY72 Golf & Resort, claiming her first title on the LPGA Tour since The Evian Championship in 2016. Her win followed hot on the heels of Team Korea's commanding victory in the UL International Crown competition just seven days earlier at Jack Nicklaus Golf Club Korea where Chun ended the week unbeaten with a perfect 4-0-0 record.
Yet prior to this memorable fortnight of golf success for Chun in her native Korea, she had failed to produce consistent form on the LPGA Tour this season with just three top-10 finishes - and none since she tied for 10th at the ShopRite LPGA Classic in early June.
"She has obviously struggled and hasn't played her best golf this year but I've seen glimpses of how she can make things happen at clutch times - just making putts to make the cut or making shots when she really has to do it," Cann told LPGA.com after watching his player wipe tears from her eyes as she spoke during the winner's ceremony. "Last week and especially this week, I've really seen how that comes out in her when she really wants it - and this week has been awesome.”
Asked if there had been any specific turning point for Chun this season, Cann replied: "Not really. It's more In Gee digging deep inside her and bringing that grit and determination out. All the champions, and Tiger Woods is a classic example, they can make things happen at clutch times and I've seen that in my career with the people I've been fortunate to caddie for. They can make things happen at clutch times and I've seen it with In Gee and this week I just saw it from her all week. I've seen glimpses of it with her before but this week it really came out and it's been a truly awesome week."
NEVER SEEN HER PLAY BETTER
Cann, who collaborated in 16 LPGA Tour wins with Sorenstam and 14 with Pak, has never seen Chun play better golf than she did at SKY72 Golf & Resort.
"Without a doubt, this has been the best all-round game she has produced since I've been with her - putting, wedges, you name it," he said. "This is not a long course but the long hitters have an advantage at this course. It's wide fairways that they can cut, and a lot of dog-legs. With In Gee not being one of the longer hitters, she really does have to rely on her wedges and her short game around here. Of all the greens she missed here this week, I think she must have got up and down 90 percent of the time. It was phenomenal this week.
"Like all great players, with In Gee you can just see the focus she has over certain shots that you just know it's going to be a great shot - just from her intensity over the pre-shot routine. From 100 yards and in, she's one of the best wedge players on Tour. But she practises that. We put head covers out on the range before we tee off most days and she knows her numbers and she controls her distance superbly."
Growing up in South Korea, Chun was a prodigy in mathematics who initially disliked golf, and her love of numbers and strategy is very evident in the meticulous way that she approaches the game.
"Strategy is definitely one of In Gee's strengths," said Cann. "Every player has their strengths - whether it's distance, preciseness or putting. In Gee's game is strategy. She strategizes her way around the golf course. Placement. Where do I want to be? I don't want to shoot at every pin. Where's the best place to leave the next shot to create the best score? I've learned from my career in golf in caddying for players that most of the best players get their way around the golf course."
Before her long-awaited win on Sunday, Chun's previous two victories on the LPGA Tour had both come at major championships - the 2015 U.S. Women's Open and the 2016 The Evian Championship. Her triumph in Incheon arguably came in a tournament regarded as the 'sixth major' by Korean players.
"I can see why she wins majors because she thinks her way around golf courses so well and she is not always going for the pin," said Cann. "For her, it's all about how she can make the best score and be smart about that. So it's no surprise to me at all that she does so well in majors."