Going into Sunday’s 36-hole final of the Women’s British Open played at Royal Liverpool Golf Club, there wasn’t a lot of doubt that Jiyai Shin would prevail. She had a 5-shot lead over Inbee Park, she’d won last week and she had been playing really well shooting 8-under 64 in the delayed second round.
The only thing that potentially stood in her way was the weather. Later, third place finisher, Paula Creamer, tried to sum up how brutal the day had been:
My goodness, I don’t think I’ve played — it was like we were standing under a shower. That’s the best way I can describe it. It was hard, my goodness gracious. I’ve always said Solheim in Sweden was one of the toughest conditions I’ve ever played in. I think this tops that, for sure.
And in that “standing in a shower” weather, Shin managed to shoot Even par for the two rounds when all the contenders around her were being sucked into the weather vortex. All but Creamer who also shot Even and shot up the leaderboard from T17 to 3rd.
Shin had a little to say about the weather too and what it did for her confidence downstream:
So I’m really surprised even from yesterday and then also today, I hit even par with 36 holes with this weather, so I’m really surprised and inspired by myself. Because really tough course here, so when I finished it today, I’m just like, wow, I can play good score any, any other course, I’m pretty sure of that.
She joined Creamer in acknowledging that these were the worst conditions she had ever played in and shed some light on the state of mind that she tried to maintain as she was slogging along:
I think yeah, it was (laughing). Today worst, but it was really fun because every hole, I laugh, because it was — how can I say, challenge. Even when I played in Asia, like Korea and Japan when the weather’s bad sometimes when I’m playing, I played a couple holes and then they just cancel the tournament.
But today, I’m really surprised they keep pushing to finish today, but it was great experience for me and a challenge all the time.
And she shot Even par in all that. Not to cast aspersions, but just to gain further perspective on how great Shin’s round was, her three closest pursuers coming into the final two rounds, Inbee Park, Mika Miyazato and Karrie Webb, shot +4, +5 and +6 respectively. It was amazing that they were able to score that well; that would make Shin’s score stupendous…and it certainly stood alone since she ended up winning by nine strokes.
What was further amazing about Shin’s performance was the back story she revealed about her hand injury that knocked her off the Tour for a big chunk of the year and her recovery process.
I had a hand operation, but it takes all my left arm and shoulders and all my left side makes it weak. So I worked really hard just my balance program and then actually, I lost a lot of power in my left arms and shoulders. So less pain, but every day I went to the hospital for [physical therapy].
And about that physical therapy?
Yes, I did, because my right side is getting stronger because I’m not using my left side. So normal after surgery, right side is muscle and slowly it’s getting better. So first I try to make it same level, like match the balance.
And it wasn’t an easy bounce back either. In fact, it was a little unsettling:
Like actually, I didn’t practice that much because I can’t hold a club, even I can’t hold clubs for almost one month and a half.
What’s the old saying, “It’s always darkest just before the dawn?” It certainly seems to be the case in Shin’s recovery process. Injury is a player’s biggest fear because you never know when the one that could end it all will strike.
But together with her $195,000 winner’s share at Kingsmill, she now has another 350,000 reasons to think the worst is finally over.