In Gee Chun Keeping Calm, Focused Heading Into Weekend At 2022 KPMG Women's PGA Championship
It’s hard, usually, to back up an all-time round at a major championship with something solid.
But In Gee Chun made that – like almost everything else for her at Congressional Country Club so far this week – look easy.
Chun shot a 3-under 69 Friday. After she opened with an 8-under 64, setting the course record in the process, she sits at 11 under through 36 holes.
Chun got off to a roaring start on Friday and was 3 under through five holes. She gave two shots back on the front nine, however, bogeying No’s 8 and 9. But she added two more circles to her card on the back nine, including an emphatic birdie on the par-4 closer.
She leads by six heading into the weekend and is looking to win her third career major championship title.
“Before I started today, I got a little pressure for sure because after I had a great first round everyone talked about how (I had) a five-shot lead,” said Chun. “Now I’m in a good position. Everyone’s expectations are really high.
“I think (69) is still a great score. Before I started today, I really don’t want to think about (Thursday). It was almost a perfect game I had, so if I can think about yesterday, then I feel like I couldn’t make good focus on my game today.”
Chun has some experience winning major championships by going low – lower than anyone else, in fact. She won the Evian Championship in 2016 with a final score of 21 under, the lowest four-round total for any major championship winner, male or female.
She also started that tournament with an 8-under score, but said she’s grown a lot – as a person and golfer – since that victory six years ago.
“I don't want to get more stressed, or I don't want to try to make a perfect game on the course. I just want to enjoy my golf game. That's the key. I believe it's the key,” said Chun of some changes to her mental approach to major-championship golf. “If I'm thinking, well, ‘the next two days are what I thought’ then… I think I have a lot of chance to make win this week.”
While Chun is seemingly running away with this year’s KPMG Women’s PGA, there are no shortage of big names trying to chase her down.
Lydia Ko and Jennifer Kupcho are tied for second at 5 under. Kupcho won last week at the Meijer LPGA Classic and captured the first major of the season as well. Ko is coming into the week having finished in the top five in four of her last five events on the LPGA Tour.
Past KPMG Women’s PGA champions Hannah Green, Brooke Henderson, and Sei Young Kim are a shot further back and tied for fourth along with Jennifer Chang and Caroline Inglis.
Henderson said she knew Chun was “pretty far ahead” but is also not counting herself out quite yet.
“She’s playing extremely well, and that’s really cool to see,” said Henderson of Chun. “Hopefully I’ll just make a few more putts and make a climb up the tomorrow and see what happens going into Sunday.
“You know, in a major championship anything can happen, and it’s only halfway. I think I’ll have to play extremely well and make a lot of bridies to put myself in good position for Sunday.”
As far as Friday goes, however, Chun is in the driver’s seat. The last player to lead the KPMG Women’s PGA by five or more shots through two rounds was Cristie Kerr in 2010, according to KPMG Performance Insights. She went on to win by 12 shots.
Surprisingly, Chun’s six-shot margin through two rounds is not a record at this championship. That record is actually eight shots, which was set three times. The most recently, according to KPMG Performance Insights, was Mickey Wright in 1961 at this championship.
“It was a little tough to make focus, but I believe it’s another process in my life, so I want to see the big picture,” said Chun. “I just want to enjoy my next two days.”