OLYMPIA FIELDS, Ill. – Jiyai Shin reminded all her former peers playing the LPGA Saturday what a force she was winning two Ricoh Women’s British Opens and rising to Rolex world No. 1.
And she showed them what a force she can still be.
With a bogey-free 7-under par 64, Shin shot to the top of the leaderboard at Olympia Fields Country Club. She had a one-shot lead when she signed her scorecard with the 36-hole leaders still on the front nine.
Shin is now a member of the Japan LPGA Tour. She has won 10 events in Japan since she left the American-based LPGA to move back to Asia after the 2013 season.
“I was homesick,” Shin said. “I missed my family.”
Shin’s family suffered through heartache when her mother was killed in a car accident when Jiyai was 16. Jiyai’s sister and brother recovered from serious injuries in that accident. Shin said she doesn’t regret her return to Asia.
“I feel more comfortable now,” Shin said. “I’m happy with my golf, and I’m happy with my life.”
Shin, 29, said she still enjoys LPGA events and seeing old friends. She got a lot of hugs on the range when she arrived this week. It’s Shin’s first event in the United States since she played the ANA Inspiration in 2014.
“It’s a lot of fun in the LPGA, and sometimes I miss the crowds and the fun,” Shin said. “But I’m not totally out of the LPGA. I’m still part of it, but I have new fans in Japan, and I have my family.”
Shin bought a residence in Tokyo and travels back and forth to South Korea regularly to see her father and sister there. Her brother is a student at the University of California Santa Barbara.
Shin reigned as the Rolex world No. 1 for 25 weeks in 2010 and ’11. She won 11 LPGA titles, including two Ricoh Women’s British Opens, over six seasons.
Today, Shin is No. 28 in the world rankings, and she says she doesn’t miss the pressure that came with the No. 1 ranking.
“I felt like I had to hit it perfect,” Shin said. “It was too much pressure. I didn’t enjoy it.”
Shin says she still believes she can win majors.
“Why not?” she said.