Jiyai Shin confronts struggles with new outlook

Jiyai Shin hits a shot during the ShopRite LPGA Classic.

Jiyai Shin hits a shot during the ShopRite LPGA Classic.

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Jiyai Shin wants to perform for her fans; she wants to deliver a good story to the media; she wants to win for her country.

But most of all, she strives to please dad.

Shin went into the Wegmans LPGA Championship two weeks ago with high expectations after a pair of top-10 finishes in the previous two events. Instead, her ball-striking was the worst it has been in years. She tied for 34th and left depleted.

“I tried to push myself,” said Shin, winless so far in nine events in 2011 and looking for her first U.S. Women’s Open trophy.

Shin said that at the beginning of her career, pressure was a like a friend: “All the time, right next to me.”

Korean fans and media used to impress upon Shin that anything less than first was a failure. Now she gets fan letters and Tweets encouraging her to enjoy life. That has helped put that cute-as-a-button smile back on Shin’s face.

But while fan support is nice, she said the biggest relief came when her father, Jeseop, echoed that sentiment. A minister by trade, Jeseop has long been the driving force behind Shin’s career. From the time his daughter was young, Jeseop had lofty goals for his oldest child.

When Jiyai’s mother died in a career accident when she was 15 years old, Jeseop used the leftover insurance money to fund her professional career.

“My father sat me down and said, ‘This is what we exchanged for your mother’s life,’ ” Shin said several years ago. “ ‘I’m going to invest this in you, so be successful. Go get it.’ ”

After last month’s LPGA Championship, Jeseop told Jiyai that she already had accomplished 90 percent of those goals, with the only remaining ones being the LPGA Hall of Fame and a long career.

“I want to play good and give good news,” Jiyai said. “I know that when I play bad he feels down, too.”

Shin, 23, said she can look at her career going two ways: Ending in her early 30’s or looking Inkster-like.

She’s been at this game full time since age 11 and wants to learn other things, too.

“I want to make another life,” she said.

But Shin, winner of the 2008 Ricoh Women’s British Open, knows now is not the time for daydreaming. The Broadmoor demands intense concentration. Lose focus for just one second, Shin said, and a bogey or double bogey looms.

Her swing coach, Glen Daugherty, arrived earlier in the week and worked on her tempo. The physical adjustment, along with her father’s blessing, has greatly improved Shin’s outlook from the LPGA Championship.

Because the fairways are more generous than Oakmont and the course is playing over 7,000 yards with altitude, Shin believes The Broadmoor’s East Course favors a longer hitter.

“And me,” she added with a grin.

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