“Jack of all trades and master of none” the old adage goes, but that isn’t the case with In Gee Chun. The 27-year-old Korean earned her fourth career victory and third major title at last month’s KPMG Women’s PGA Championship at Congressional Country Club, her first win since 2018. She funds a successful charity, the In Gee Chun Lancaster Country Club Educational Foundation, that provides educational scholarships to young people in the Lancaster, Pennsylvania area, the site of her 2015 U.S. Women’s Open victory. And to top it all off, although she’s reluctant to admit it, Chun is an incredibly talented artist.
Chun’s fascination with art began around six years ago when she was looking for a hobby that she could do while traveling and competing on the LPGA Tour. Thinking it would be fun, she started painting sneakers during her time on the road. The pastime quickly developed into a passion for the three-time major champion, so much so that she has an exhibition coming up in December alongside her friend and fellow artist Sunmi Park, whom she met through one of her sponsors.
“I went to (Sunmi’s) exhibition last December. Before I talked to her, I did painting before on my Nike shoes, and then we slowly talked about maybe in the future collaborating together,” said Chun. “Then we just decided to have an art exhibition this December. I think we made the plan in May. When I went back home after winning KPMG I went to her studio, and we started preparing our exhibition in December.”
Chun spent quite a bit of time sketching and painting pieces for the show during her three weeks off. While to most people that would seem like a lot of work to do when you’re supposed to be recharging after a major victory, Chun is extra motivated to create her best work for a very good reason.
“I really enjoyed it because all the money is going to my foundation so I will want to do my best,” she said. “I'm trying to make as much money as I can. It's not a stress. And then (Sunmi) understands I'm a golfer. She gave me a lot of time.
“It's fun because I'm when I'm trying to (be focused) on my art thing, I can put my entire emotion into a piece. So someday all the colors are going to really bright. The next day, if I feel a little bit sad or down and I don't know why but I can feel that dark color. But it's fun too.”
That emotional release is something that Chun cherishes considering the excruciating nature of professional golf. It’s important for players to have an outlet outside of the game that they can turn to in times of mental exhaustion, something that takes their mind off golf and chills them out, an escape from the grueling life of a career spent competing.
“Some players, they have their own mental coach. I have a mental coach too. But sometimes when I go see (Sunmi) and then talk about the non-golf, like different subjects, it's nice to see the world as a bigger place,” she explained. “Usually, I talk about golf with everyone else. I really enjoyed listening to her experience. I go to her studio and talk with her. It's healing.”
This week at the Amundi Evian Championship, Chun turns her attention back to golf and back to business. Evian Resort Golf Club is a place she’s won at before – Chun captured her second LPGA win and second major title here in 2016 – and with the KPMG Women’s PGA now on her resume, she’s surely feeling incredibly confident as she readies herself for another major test. But while the taste of success is a sweet one, it can bring pressure and high expectations into play, something that Chun isn’t trying to think about too much.
“I’m really happy to win KPMG because so many fans and sponsors, they never give up on me so I'm really happy to give something like that to them,” she said. “But at the same time, now if you're looking for the Career Grand Slam or what another major means, it's a little bit of pressure on me but I’m still just trying to enjoy every moment and staying present.
“That's why it sometimes helps to talk about other things. The goal is to help it make it balanced because if we just think about golf for the whole day, it’s a lot of stress.”
Some people can’t handle being talented at a lot of different things. It either drives them mad or apathetic. But as she seemingly does with everything in her life, Chun handles her gifts with grace, and the Jill of all trades concerns herself more with making the people around her happy than her own success, a noble feat in a world that is perpetually marred with self-centeredness.
“I don't think I have that much talent but if I can help something a little bit – I really enjoy seeing other people when they get something from me and their happy faces,” she said. “This is why I'm doing (what I’m doing) and trying to make a good effort.”