SERENE KOREANS LEAD THE WAY
At the end of her third-round 66 in the HSBC Women’s World Championship at Sentosa, In Gee Chun, who is leading the field on 12 under par, was reminding herself of something. “Sometimes, when I feel not good I make better results,” she said.
On Thursday, she had thought of pulling out of the tournament because of the neck spasms which, she felt, had their origins in her sleeping position on Wednesday night. “At the eleventh hole in my first round it really hurt.” As luck would have it, Advil tablets, half swings and physiotherapy combined to effect enough of a cure to have her saying, “Today I make incredible swing.”
In Gee Chun (Photo credit: Getty Images)
As for tomorrow’s round, this former champion mathematician — she specialised in percentages — predicts that her neck is going to feel 100%. Which is the best of news for a player who has two sister Koreans in Jeongeun Lee6 and Jin Young Ko on her heels at 11 under par.
In keeping with her name-cum-number, Lee 6 had six birdies in the first nine holes of her third-round 65. As for Ko, she had a 69 which saw her matching her own record of 14 consecutive rounds in the 60s. Mind you, she put herself under pressure in the process, turning in level par before making the three birdies she needed to keep that run alive. Can she make it 15 tomorrow? That’s what everyone wants to know, though it goes without saying that the player herself has her heart set on winning at the same time. With this in mind, she plans to make seven or eight birdies.
The Koreans have a serene as opposed to a bullish brand of confidence. You might see a rueful smile if they miss a ten-footer but it’s not too often that you see them looking downright angry.
The now 31-year-old So Yeon Ryu, who has two majors under her belt and 20 round-the-world titles in all, is not having the best of weeks on this occasion in that she is outside the top 30. However, she not so long ago provided what proved to be a very useful service in looking at Korean golfers as if she herself were an outsider.
Far from believing that the South Korean women’s stack of majors is all down to endless hours on the practice range, she refers instead to what happens in Koreans’ earliest years.
“As babies,” she explained, “Koreans are encouraged to keep their emotions in check; crying and noisy scenes are not condoned. Though our culture is not too different from the Western culture in emphasising the need to be happy, we put still more of an emphasis on respecting others. Parents are embarrassed if their child starts to bawl in pubic and the child, in turn, learns to keep himself or herself under control. This, of course, is a huge asset when it comes to the pressures of tournament golf.”
Ryu then moved on to discuss the other side of the coin; to an area where a Korean upbringing serves a player less than well.
So Yeon Ryu (Photo credit: Getty Image)
“Up until the age of 19,” she said “Koreans usually do everything their parents tell them to do – so much so that they have no idea how to be independent when they start on tour. If they don’t have their parents with them they have trouble managing themselves.”
That situation, however, has gradually sorted itself out as the parents learn what is best from their side of the equation and, nowadays, if the players feel they do better if they are given a bit more space, the parents accept as much. Interesting stuff.