Golf-Chun defies the doubters to end title drought with a major

Jun 26, 2022; Bethesda, Maryland, USA; In Gee Chun plays her shot from the fifth tee during the final round of the KPMG Women's PGA Championship golf tournament at Congressional Country Club. Mandatory Credit: Scott Taetsch-USA TODAY Sports

(Reuters) - Chun In-gee said she was urged to retire from golf during her three-and-a-half year title drought, which the South Korean snapped with her third major at the Women's PGA Championship at Bethesda on Sunday.

The 27-year-old's wire-to-wire victory at the Congressional Country Club was her first title since she won on home soil at the HanaBank Championship in October 2018, her only LPGA win outside the majors.

"When I got in a slump, some people said, 'In-gee, you should retire because your game is not good right now'," she recalled.

"But no matter what they said, I believed that I could win again. I'm so proud now ... I stuck with it. I kept playing. That's how I won this week. That's why I'm so thankful."

A sizzling course record eight-under-par 64 got Chun off to a flyer in the opening round but a 75 in round three allowed the chasing pack to close to within three shots.

Four bogeys on the front nine of Sunday's final round erased her advantage and she turned around trailing American Lexi Thompson by two shots at the top of the leaderboard.

"I want to tell truth," she said. "I couldn't control all the pressure. This is why I had four bogeys.

"At the same time, you know, this course is never easy. Congressional Country Club is a hard golf course, and we had tough pin positions. Sometimes my golf is not perfect."

Two birdies with a single bogey as Thompson faltered on the back nine, however, proved enough for Chun to take the title with a par-par finish.

"I believed that if I stuck to my game plan then I had a chance on the back nine," Chun added.

"So, I tried to hang in there. I'm so happy I made it. My body is still shaking, though."

The win earned Chun a cheque for $1.35 million, a big jump from the $487,500 she took home from her last major triumph at the 2016 Evian Championship.

(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney, editing by Peter Rutherford)

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