In recent years, it has been a battle on and off the golf course for In Gee Chun. On the course, the competitor in her wants to again find the winner’s circle, a place that has eluded Chun since the 2018 LPGA KEB Hana Bank Championship. Off the course, she has grappled with depression and self-worth.
“I think all athletes work hard, and I did too, but when I tried working hard it gave me more pressure. I felt like I had to make the right result but I couldn’t made it, so I couldn’t enjoy the process and couldn’t enjoy golf,” said Chun, a two-time major champion. “Now, I’m trying to make golf more enjoyable and I trust myself. I don’t think about the result, just stay present and it helps me a lot. I have a good balance like in golf and my life.
“When I faced depression, my parents and friends and my [swing and mental] coach [Dr. Won Park] they tried to help me a lot but I could not hear what they said, so I hurt them. Now my ears are more open, so I really appreciate them. I think without them, I could not get back to normal In Gee.”
Perhaps a contributing factor to her newfound comfort is creating a base in the United States. Earlier this year, Chun bought a house near good friend Sei Young Kim in the greater Dallas metropolitan area. It has paid dividends, taking pressure off her when it comes to a rigorous travel schedule and offered a retail therapy outlet.
“When I go to practice with her [Sei Young] and friends, always happier,” said Chun. “I have to take care about mail. My house was empty, so the last off weeks I filled it with furniture. I got a lot of presents from my friends, so I really enjoyed playing with the new like technology machines. Now I have a home here and it feels more like home for me. I really enjoy my time at the house and when I have an off week then it’s really exciting to be back at my house.”
The transformation has also translated to results on the course. Across her first three starts in the 2021 LPGA Tour season, Chun has three top-10 finishes including a pair of top-five results, most recently the Drive On Championship presented by Volvik at Golden Ocala.
During the stretch to open the year, Chun has shot over par only once and recorded a combined total of 32-under par with 10 of her 12 rounds in red numbers. With the solid performances, “all my friends on Tour came to me and said, ‘Oh, good job In Gee. Good round,’ so it made me really happy,” Chun said. “I am very lucky to have all my good friends on the Tour.”
All her friends know just how good she is, and that belief is starting to shine in herself. Chun will head off No. 1 tee on Thursday at 12:33 p.m. local time for round one of the Kia Classic with Michelle Wie West and second-year rookie Albane Valenzuela.