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Honest In Gee Shows Her True Self at KPMG Women’s PGA | LPGA

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BETHESDA, MARYLAND | They don’t come more honest, which is refreshing in any profession these days but extraordinary in sports. Ask athletes to share their innermost feelings about anything and you’re likely to get looks ranging from puzzled to scornful. At a time when the world seems to live on Me Island and every sentence begins with “I,” athletes are notorious for endlessly talking about themselves without saying anything at all.

Then there is our last great champion, In Gee Chun, who captured the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship with a shot over her next door neighbors in Irving, Texas, Minjee Lee and Lexi Thompson. Unlike most 27-year-olds, Chun tells you everything. She is an open book: honest, serious, intellectual, and the kind of gentle soul that makes you feel honored to meet her.

Throughout the week, she was a breath of fresh air. Ask her about the 64 course record she shot on Thursday. “I’m so happy,” she said. Mention the 75 she shot on Saturday, cutting a 7-shot lead to three, and said, “I have to put that aside and remember I still have a lead and be happy with that.” Ask her about cooking for her neighbors Minjee and Sei Young Kim, and she laughs before saying, “I’m working on seasoning a steak right now.”

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So when asked Sunday how it felt to lose a three-shot lead over the first four holes of the final round and turn around after losing the lead for the first time since 10:30 a.m. hits

“The first nine holes I had a lot of pressure, so to be honest, I couldn’t enjoy playing golf,” she said with the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship trophy at her side. “But I believed if I stuck to my game plan and then I believed I had a chance on the back nine. So, I tried to hang in there. I am so happy I made it. However, my body is still shaking.”

So was everyone else’s. Chun opened up such a commanding lead over the first 45 holes that it looked like this one was going to run wild. At one point on Saturday, he was 11 under, a number no one saw coming at the Congressional Country Club when the week began. But major venues have a way of biting back. Chun made a couple of sloppy swings on Saturday night and finished the day at 7 under, three ahead of Thompson and Hye-Jin Choi.

A 40 through the front nine and it looked like this one had gotten away.

“So I want to tell the truth,” Chun said afterwards. “I couldn’t control all the pressure. That’s why he had four bogeys (up front). At the same time, you know, this course is never easy. Congressional Country Club is a tough golf course, and we had tough positions on the pins. Sometimes my golf is not perfect. Today, he turned out to be (not perfect) in the top nine.”

He then laughed and said, “Golf is never easy. Still, I can’t believe I won. That is why I feel very emotionally right now.”

In the mark of a champion, Chun fought back. He played the tough last four holes 1 under par, which was enough to take the win.

“At the time, I thought, ‘Wow, if you never give up, then you can get something.’ She just doesn’t crack under pressure. She keeps doing what you’re doing. See the full image. Keep going to reach your goal.’”

It’s been a long road. Chun last won in 2018 at the HanaBank Championship in his home country of South Korea. Before that, he won majors in 2015 and 2016.

“When I went on a losing streak, some people said, ‘In Gee, you should retire because your game isn’t good right now.’ But no matter what they said, I believed that I could win again. I am so proud now.”

She has always been open, including about some of the struggles she had early in her career with depression. When asked what this victory meant, not only for her career but also for her personal journey back, she got pretty emotional.

“I’m happy because my sponsors always believed in me,” he said. “I know it’s never easy, so I really appreciate all of my sponsors. Then my family and my coach, my managers, my friends, they never gave up on me no matter how I did it, so I really wanted to win the last few years.

“I really appreciate everyone. When I hit a rough patch, I really wanted to quit golf, but not for them. I stayed with it. I kept playing. That’s how I won this week. For that I am so grateful.”

Grateful and honest. How refreshing.

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