Angel Yin is a different Angel than a year ago. At the Tour’s restart in Toledo in 2020 at the Drive On Championship – Inverness Club, she said she started feeling tight, feeling immeasurable pain then at the AIG Women’s Open a few weeks later. After seeing specialists, it was determined to be due to nerve pain in her left shoulder.
“At the worse point, it was hard for me to open a water bottle. I couldn’t drive with my left hand,” said Yin. A natural with the driver, Yin, who averaged 277.50 yards in 2019, said last year she left her treasured club in the bag more times than none. “If you look at the stats last year I was really low in driving distance. It was just because I really couldn't hit. I think my 7-iron, which usually carries around 155, went sometimes go 145. It was like a big impact on me mentally to think about I'm hitting it so short,” said Yin. “Like when I have a distance and I'm using the full 6-iron I go a club lower because I just physically couldn't hit it that hard.”
Fast forward to her first event of the 2021 season. With a clearer mindset and more of a handle on her injury, Yin recorded a 7-under 65 to sit in a tie for third at the Gainbridge LPGA along with World No. 1 Jin Young Ko and 15-time Tour winner Lydia Ko at -10. It’s her lowest 18-hole score since the second round of last year’s event in Boca Raton, one off her career-low, a 64 at the 2018 Indy Women in Tech Championship.
The 22-year-old started slow with only one birdie on her front nine on No. 7, but made the turn and fired five birdies, an eagle on the day’s drivable par-4 14th and a lone bogey on No. 17.
“When I hit a shot it still hurts, especially driver. And to shoot 7-under it just feels really good because I wasn't able to do that in a while. Even though I knew where my game was, the pain was overshadowing everything,” said Yin. “I would say my putts started going in. It wasn't like I was reading putts bad, but all my putts yesterday and the day before just kind of missed a little bit, including the front nine. And then on the back nine just started rolling in, and then with that momentum I was able to hit it closer and just things just started happening. I didn't really know what happened. I kind of blacked out. And then I woke up with my bogey, and then was like, okay, let me make another birdie to finish.”
Yin said she was grateful for today’s round as the confidence booster she’s been looking for. All in all, she’s happy to grow from her injury as she goes for her first victory on the LPGA Tour.
“I think this injury saved my career. I learned how to hit a cut which I didn't really know how to do. I noticed that my swing wasn't right. I was always a swinger and I became a hitter out of nowhere. I think that is what really causes harm on my left shoulder. So I changed my swing, worked on it nonstop for two weeks back I was back in L.A. and worked out a little bit, and I think it's good,” said Yin. “I would say I'm more like when I was younger, back to when I was younger playing style and swing. Going backwards in life.”
Jin Young Ko Earns Her Dinner and T3 Finish After Day Three at Lake Nona
All it took for World No. 1 Young Ko to jump up 13 spots to tie for third ahead of the final round at Gainbridge LPGA at Lake Nona Golf & Country Club was a bet with her caddie to shoot 4-under or better. Loser would have to buy dinner.
“Because I had good motivation than the day before,” said Ko, who recorded a third-round 66. “My caddie, he wanted to bet me about dinner tonight, so I won and he has to bring me take-out food to my room.”
Though the bet was enough to get Ko focused on the third day and within three strokes of the leader, what also helped was convening with putting coach Gareth the evening before.
“We have been working together since three years so he knows me really well. I need him,” said Ko of her putting coach who gave her some good advice. “I didn't connect to my arms and body during my putting stroke, so I fixed a little bit to connect a bit more of my arms with my body.”