Injuries proving tough foes in last days of ladies golf tours

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Injuries proving tough foes in last days of ladies golf tours

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Park In-bee

The women’s golf tour is coming to an end, and injuries among top Korean golfers are sapping the momentum from more than a few personal title pursuits.

In the KLPGA Tour, Chun In-gee withdrew from the Seoul Economic Daily-Munyoung Queens Park Ladies Classic on Sunday after her tee shot at the 10th hole. The 21-year-old explained that she couldn’t even complete her swing because of pain in her left shoulder. An inspection at a local hospital on Tuesday revealed that Chun, the 2015 U.S. Women’s Open champion, had shoulder impingement syndrome, which she had experienced in previous years.

Despite dropping out on Sunday, Chun maintained her top status in the KLPGA Tour as her rivals failed to win the event. The tournament was taken by Kim Hae-youn who collected her fifth career victory and ended a four year winless drought.

With only two events left till the season finale, Chun has confirmed her status as the top prize money earner by collecting more than 910 million won ($799,318) this season, a number No.2 Park Sung-hyun couldn’t achieve even if she wins all the remaining events. Chun is also guaranteed to end the season with the most wins at five, because Park, Lee Jung-min and Ko Jin-young all have three wins so far.

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Chun In-gee

But the only category Chun hasn’t confirmed is the MVP title, which Lee is chasing by only 27 points.

With the KLPGA Tour’s top prize on the stake, Chun decided not to compete the ADT Caps Championship starting today at the Haeundae Beach Golf & Resort in Busan ? a bold move considering that the winner receives 40 MVP points.

At first, the organizers and sponsors requested that she participate due to marketing reasons, but as she couldn’t even make her swing in the pro-am event on Wednesday, Chun finally confirmed that she wouldn’t participate in the event.

Originally, her doctor recommended that she take at least two weeks off from playing. Some fans are worried that if she plays again so soon, she’ll aggravate her injury and be unable to play in the LPGA Tour next year.

While domestic No. 1 Chun is dealing with her injury, career Grand Slam winner Park In-bee has also decided to take some time off because of an injury to her finger.

Park, the 16-time winner in the LPGA Tour, withdrew from the Blue Bay LPGA last week in China after she felt pain in her left middle finger before entering the second round. The 27-year-old first picked up the injury during the KB Financial Star Championship in Korea last month, at which she finished runner-up, but apparently her finger wasn’t fully healed.

The injury is bad news for Park, who is looking to reclaim the world No. 1 ranking from Lydia Ko.

Ko took the top spot from Park after winning the Fubon LPGA Taiwan Championship on Oct. 25. Adding insult to injury, the victory was Ko’s fifth this LPGA Tour season, beating Park’s four events. The 18-year-old Korea-born Kiwi also leads Park in prize money, Rolex Player of the Year award points and scoring average.

Park doesn’t have enough events to get revenge as there are only three left. Because of her injury, she decided not to compete in the Toto Japan Classic, which starts today at the Kintetsu Kashikojima Country Club in Shima, Japan. Fortunately for Park, Ko is also skipping this tournament.

However, Park said she will compete in the remaining tournaments - Lorena Ochoa Invitational in Mexico and CME Group Tour Championship in Florida.

At the Blue Bay LPGA in China last week, LPGA Rookie of the Year contender Kim Hyo-joo withdrew the event after experiencing symptoms of enteritis during the first round.

As her rival Kim Sei-young won the event - her third victory of the season - and moved closer to the Rookie of the Year title, it was painful for Hyo-joo to drop out from the Chinese event.

Concerns have been rising for Kim’s health. She also dropped out the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia on Oct. 10 due to the same symptoms.

Despite her health conditions, the 20-year-old will compete in the Toto Japan Classic this weekend. Kim Hyo-joo, who has one victory this season, has 1,175 points for the Rookie of the Year award, which is 247 points behind Kim Sei-young, who will not compete in this weekend’s event.

The Toto Japan Classic offers 150 points for top rookie award, and the season’s final event, the CME Group Tour Championship, offers 300 points. This means that Kim still has a fighting chance at the title.

But in addition to her health issues, the road to victory in Japan won’t be easy. At the Toto Japan Classic, the LPGA Tour’s top golfers are joined by 32 top-notch JLPGA Tour-based golfers are also competing, including former world No.1 and 11-time LPGA Tour winner Shin Ji-yai.

BY JOO KYUNG-DON [joo.kyungdon@joongang.co.kr]
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