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Former LPGA star inspired by younger golfers

Aug. 14, 2023 - 09:20 By Yonhap
Shin Ji-yai of South Korea hits a shot on the fourth hole during the final round of the AIG Women's Open at Walton Heath Golf Club in Surrey, England, on Monday. (The Royal and Ancient Golf Club)

At this rate, Shin Ji-yai may be tempted to move back to the LPGA Tour.

Shin, former world No. 1 in women's golf now playing full time in Japan, finished in third place at the AIG Women's Open in England on Sunday. It was her second top-three performance at an LPGA major this year, following a runner-up finish at the US Women's Open in July.

Shin carded a two-under 70 in the final round at Walton Heath Golf Club and ended at seven-under 281, seven behind the champion, Lilia Vu of the United States.

At the peak of her powers, Shin was the best female golfer in the world. She spent 25 weeks at the top of the women's golf rankings from May 2010 to February 2011. Before the start of the 2014 season, though, Shin relinquished her LPGA membership so that she could be closer to her family in South Korea. She started playing full time in Japan.

Based on her strong performances in Japan, Shin is still high enough in the world rankings to be eligible for major championships. And after her latest major, Shin said she will probably get into a few other events in the United States in the future.

"I've played 10 years on the Japan tour already, and sometimes I need something new," Shin said. "When I come up here, I can see my old friends, and I can see the new generation. They play so great, and they have a lot of speed and a lot of power. I got more inspired from them. I'm still learning. That's why I want to come to watch and play with them."

Now 35, Shin is also the one inspiring others. After the US Women's Open, Shin cracked the top 30 in the world rankings for the first time in three years. She entered the AIG Women's Open at No. 25, after beginning the year at No. 67.

Shin attributed her recent success at majors to a different mindset than the one in the past when she was an LPGA member.

"I'm not playing here anymore. That's why I play well without pressure," she said. "And now, I am enjoying my traveling more. That's why good results are following my good feeling."

Shin said she will be back for another AIG Women's Open next year when it will be played at the historic St Andrews in Scotland. But for now, her focus will shift to her day job of playing in Japan.

In Japan, Shin is in second place in both the Player of the Year points and money rankings, behind Miyuu Yamashita.

"I need rest first, and so I'll take the week off, and then back to the Japan tour," she said. "We are still in the middle of the season, and I'm second in the race. I look forward to getting on top." (Yonhap)