LPGA golfer Chun In-gee finally back in action

March 30, 2016
(AP Photo)

Last year’s U.S. Women’s Open champion Chun In-gee is finally ready to go after injuring her back a month ago in a freak accident. (AP Photo)

RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. (Yonhap) — Last year’s U.S. Women’s Open champion Chun In-gee said Tuesday she is happy to be back after an injury kept her out for a month, as she eyes a solid return at the season’s first major championship in California this week.

Chun will have her first major title shot as a full-time LPGA member at the ANA Inspiration, which starts on Thursday at Mission Hills Country Club.

Chun has returned to tournament play for the first time since Feb. 28 when she finished second at the Honda LPGA Thailand. After completing the event, she moved to Singapore for the season’s fifth tournament, the HSBC Women’s Champions, but a 15-pound carry-on belonging to father of fellow golfer Jang Ha-na tumbled down an escalator and struck her at the airport, causing her to fall.

The accident forced Chun to withdraw from the HSBC Women’s Champions, which Jang later won. She also had to skip the JTBC Founders Cup and the Kia Classic to receive treatment for her injury.

Chun said she has put the incident behind her and wants to focus on recovering her game on the course. Missing three LPGA events did put her behind in the race for an Olympic ticket and the LPGA Rookie of the Year title, but the world No. 9 golfer said that she’s in no rush.

“I was able to spent lot of time with my parents and it also served as time to check my swing again,” Chun said. “I don’t want to talk about the incident at the airport again.”

Chun came to the United States last week to prepare for the ANA Inspiration in which she tied for 41st last year. The nine-time winner on the domestic KLPGA Tour said she has missed the golf tournament atmosphere and is just happy to be back.

“I felt melancholy when I was just staying at my house, hospital and driving range, but being on the green makes me feel better,” she said. “Fellow golfers also welcomed my comeback.”

Chun, who will tee off with Yani Tseng of Taiwan in the first round of the ANA Inspiration, has been gradually increasing her practice amount and intensity. The South Korean said her lower back hasn’t fully recovered, but was positive that her condition is improving.

“I feel that my condition is getting better as time moves on,” she said.

Though she can’t predict how the result will turn out, Chun promised she will show her best performance to fans, saying the golf course suits her style of play.

“Usually for the major tournament, I target a top 10 finish,” she said. “I don’t know how I will finish at this tournament, but I’m just happy and thankful to return and play the game.”

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