GALLOWAY, N.J. – It wasn’t easy. But no worthwhile goal ever is. Janet Lin won the team gold medal for Guangdong province in the Chinese National Games in 2013. This year, the third time golf has been part of that contest, organizers decided to award both a team and individual medal. “From the first day [they announced the format], I was like, ‘Yeah I'm going to win both of them,’” Lin said.
COVID-19 and all of its restrictions threw a number of wrenches into that process. For starters, the Olympic Games were moved from 2020 to 2021, which meant that Lin would represent her country on the world stage in Tokyo, then fly home to China where she would represent her province.
Then, of course, there were the quarantines.
“I had two 21-day quarantines before and after the Olympics,” Lin explained. “I quarantined before the Olympics. Then I played the Olympics. And then three weeks of quarantine afterwards (followed by) two weeks of training with the Guangdong team. And then, last week, I finally played in the national games.
“[Before the Olympics] we were in our room. And then after several days of testing, we were allowed to go out individually and practice for like two hours a day,” she said. “So, I got a little bit of sun. And then when we came back from the Olympics, it was kind of the same. But we weren’t at a golf course. We were in like a bicycle training base, which had a gym, running field; they had everything. After the first seven days stuck in a room, the next 14 we could go out to just have a little walk.”
The golfers at the Chinese National Games were quarantined with the equestrian team. Neither had access to their traditional facilities.
“I mean, I haven't really done a real quarantine. But those two were pretty crazy. After the Olympics, I didn't touch a club for 21 days. My 5-wood got rusty,” Lin said with a laugh. “Yeah, I took my 5-wood out, finally, at the golf course, and I'm like, ‘Oh, why does it have rust on it?’”
Still, she went out and captured the individual title by seven shots over her Guangdong teammates Shanshan Feng and Yu Liu, among many others.
With all the travel and time away, the Shoprite Classic is Lin’s first event since the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship. But in hindsight, the time away – even those stir-crazy moments when she could only get outside alone for an hour – were worth it.
“I was setting the goal for two gold medals for sure, because this also could be my last national games,” she said.
Lin makes her home in Orlando now where she has a group of close friends, including fellow LPGA Tour pros Sarah Kemp and Sung Hyun Park, at Orange Tree Country Club. The time away from the LPGA Tour this year has taken a toll. Lin has goals at the professional level, including winning on Tour. That is now her focus.
“This year, I mean, I sacrificed a lot,” she said. “The Olympics but also for the National Games. I could’ve gone straight back to Scotland [after the Olympics] and started playing again [in the Trust Golf Women’s Scottish Open and the AIG Women’s Open]. But I sacrificed a lot. I mean, it was because of the pandemic but I felt like you just never know what might happen in the next four years. Now my biggest goal is to win on tour. I’m probably going to focus more over here [on the LPGA Tour].”
One goal down; more to come. Don’t expect anything less than complete dedication from a player willing to spend six weeks in quarantine for a shot at her dreams.