N.Y. Choi tries to put back injury behind her

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PHOENIX – Na Yeon Choi’s ailing back is feeling better, and now she’s working on fixing what’s ailing her swing.

Choi, whose nine LPGA titles include the 2012 U.S. Women’s Open, struggled with a herniated disc last summer, a malady she said she never should have tried to play through.

“I’m in a little slump,” Choi said Wednesday as she prepared for the Bank of Hope Founders Cup. “It’s not the driver yips. I think it’s from the back injury. I started hitting it all over being greedy, trying to continue to play last year. Even when my back started feeling better, I couldn’t trust my swing.”

Choi, 29, left the tour late last year after shooting an 86 in the final round of the Sime Darby Malaysia. She returned to her Orlando home to regroup.

“I took three weeks and didn’t do anything,” said Choi, who won twice in 2015 but slumped to 55th on the money list last year. “I didn’t hardly even see anyone. I just wanted to be by myself, to think about my future, about golf.”

Choi returned to her South Korean home in December, and she went to work there rehabbing and exercising to strengthen her back. She returned to Orlando on Jan. 1 and began preparing for her return to the LPGA. She struggled at the Honda LPGA Thailand in her 2017 debut, finishing 69th in a field of 70 players, and again at the HSBC Women’s Champions, where she finished 60th among 63 players. She is hopeful that a healthier back will eventually lead to the return of a healthier swing.

“My back’s much better, and I think I’m doing things the right way,” Choi said.