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Chun making first start since escalator mishap

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RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. – Reigning U.S. Women’s Open champion In Gee Chun is making her first start since a mishap on an escalator in Singapore knocked her out of three LPGA events.

Her appearance at this week’s ANA Inspiration is also her first in the United States since she was hurt after Ha Na Jang’s father lost control of a 15-pound travel bag that went crashing down the moving staircase and struck Chun in the tailbone. Chun withdrew from that week’s HSBC Women’s Champions and later the JTBC Founders Cup and the Kia Classic while being treated for injuries to her lumbar muscles, sacroiliac joint and pelvis.

“I’m about 85 percent recovered,” Chun told after Wednesday’s nine-hole pro-am round at Mission Hills Country Club.

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The bizarre circumstances surrounding the airport incident set off a media firestorm in South Korea with Chun locked in an intense battle with Jang and others to make the Korean Olympic team. Jang went on to win in Singapore, moving her inside the qualifying cutoff to make the Olympic team and bumping Chun outside of it.

“It was just an accident, and no more than that,” Chun said.

Korean media reported afterward that Jang’s father apologized immediately after the incident, but Chun’s family originally questioned “shortcomings” in the apology and an explanation of what caused Jang’s father to drop the bag. Chun said Wednesday that she had not yet seen Jang at Mission Hills since arriving but wanted to move on.

“I feel like, let bygones be bygones,” Chun said. “I am going to move forward and enjoy this week.”

Chun said she still has tightness on the right side of her lower back, but she has a physiologist, Dr. Mark Smith, with her this week, providing treatments before and after rounds. She is also taking anti-inflammatory medication.

“If I’m sitting more than 30 minutes, it gets tight,” Chun said. “Walking, standing, swinging, I’m fine.”

Chun was hurt four weeks ago and said she didn’t begin hitting full shots until six days ago with her coach, Won Park. She said she’s here to try to win.

“My swing’s getting better since I started hitting balls,” Chun said. “Every day, I’m feeling improvement.”