Meet Jin Jeong - golf's most resilient player

Golf News

Jin Jeong might be best known for 32 straight missed cuts. But you just try and keep him down. Mark Townsend went to meet the spirited Korean...

How would you sum up the last two seasons?

I’ve changed coaches a bit and they have all got different opinions.

Now I am working with Brad Malone, who was with Adam Scott for six years, and the first time I saw him was without a camera. I had just got very technical with everything so I would try to solve everything with positions.

With Brad I just swing the club and try to find a natural swing without being too technical and trying to position the club all the time.

In 2015 your season finished in June, presumably with injuries?

I had a right hip problem so I would be in tears trying to sleep. I went back to Korea and did some MRI scans, they could have done an op but the problem could come back so I took four months off for rehab.

I was pretty much laying down for 10 weeks on medication, with no gym or even walking, and after eight weeks I was slightly better. In the end I had five months off and, while I wasn’t perfect after that, I am good now.

How do you stay positive when you’re missing cut after cut?

I always put a lot of effort in, I’ll go to the gym after rounds and I was always expecting some better results but it wasn’t happening. It is pretty hard to keep going, I have a good team around me and they have seen me playing well in the past. Brad sees something in me and thinks I can play well again and I’ve got some good mates around me which has helped massively.

Jin JeongAnd the same caddie all through 2016?

Yes, John Wilkie. I told him that he was welcome to leave at any time as he wasn’t making any money and I was just really sorry but he was so nice. He saw something in me and said we are going to do this together, that the results didn’t matter so shut up and keep working. We still get along and talk a lot.

And my sponsors, Hugo Boss, FootJoy and Titleist, have been incredible in sticking by me. My contracts expired at the end of last year but they are still supporting me.

Are you one to pick the brains of other players who have been through similar runs?

I’ve not spoken to Henrik Stenson or Justin Rose but I have spoken to a lot of top coaches, a few veteran players and Adam Scott and YE Yang. When you see Stenson win the Open like that after things that he has been through you can’t help but be inspired by that, the same with Rose.

YE would try to help me on the range, same with Richard Green or Brett Rumford.

Have you worked with a psychologist?

I have done, some of it is great. I think it’s more helpful when you are playing well and in contention, when you are struggling not so much.

My big problem was my technique so it didn’t really matter what anyone was telling me, I couldn’t make the moves under pressure.

All your peers speak highly about you, saying you are the same person now as before all the missed cuts?

I think I was a lot nicer when I was younger! I try not to think too much away from the course as, if I did, I couldn’t keep going. Of course I would think how can I get through this but I wouldn’t obsess about it.

How different was your game in practice different to in a tournament?

On the range it wasn’t too bad, the practice round not great but not horrible and the tournaments were horrible. Because I had become so technical I wasn’t just trying to hit a fairway, I would be thinking what position to be in on the way down.

That would mean that my club speed was a lot slower and that didn’t help. With Brad I am now working on finding that natural swing.

And things are now beginning to turn around..

The results were the same last year but my game was improving and I then made the cut at the Australian Open in Sydney in November where Jordan Spieth won in a play-off. That was the first time that had happened for a few years! I finished T28, had four birdies on the trot in the second round and that showed what I am working on is going in the right direction.

How nice a feeling was it on the Friday night to look forward to playing at the weekend?

I’m not sure if I should say this but I didn’t have any clothes for the weekend! I said to my room mate I don’t know what I should wear tomorrow? He thought I was joking so I had to do some washing.

And this year..

I will be playing in tournaments at home in Australia and get my game ready for Q School rather than looking for invites in Europe. The plan is to get healthier and stronger and build myself up from there.

And beyond…

In five years I’d like to be on the PGA Tour.

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