Jiyai Shin has a new coach, a new caddie and a new look as she starts her defence of the Evian Masters presented by Société Générale in France this week.
The 23-year-old Korean took the title in spectacular fashion at the Evian Masters Golf Club 12 months ago, when she edged out Americans Morgan Pressel, Lexi Thompson and fellow Korean Na Yeon Choi with a birdie on the closing hole for a four-round total of 14 under par.
Now she is looking for her first victory of the 2011 season on the picturesque fairways at Evian Masters Golf Club in Evian-les-Bains.
She tied for second at the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open on the LET in February, and has finished second twice on the LPGA, at the Kia Classic and tied second at the Shoprite LPGA Classic.
“Actually, last year also before this week, before Evian, I didn’t win. This is my last year first time win on this course, so I think it’s time,” Shin chuckled.
“Yeah, it’s time to win. I know a lot of my fans waiting, and I’m also very waiting for the win. I think I prepared last couple days, so I feel like I’m really ready.
“I’m really happy to come back here because this is my favourite place. So I’m all the time happy to play here. I have a lot of good memories on this course, so I feel really good.”
Shin is now working with Yani Tseng’s former coach, Glen Daugherty in San Diego and feels that she has gained a little distance this season.
“After I change I get a little bit more distance, about 15 yards, like Yani. Not enough!” she said.
Australian Shaun Clews has stepped in to replace long-time caddie Dean Herden, who is caring for his ill mother.
Another change is Shin’s appearance as she is no longer bespectacled after laser surgery. “I changed a lot. I changed the caddie and my coach, and I did a Lasik surgery, too. A lot of people worry because so many things change, but, yeah, I think it feels like it makes more better, so just take a little bit of time,” she said.
She loves the course: “It’s really just beautiful. It’s a lot of flowers, a lot of trees, and we can see the lake on the course. Actually, here this course is on the mountain, so very similar to what Korean golf course, too. So when I play, I feel very calm, very comfortable.”
She also tried to learn the language and addressed the audience at Tuesday evening’s welcome party with the words, “Bon jour, comment allez‑vouz,” which was a lot more French than most attendees could speak of Korean.
“I think very charming, like French, somebody speak French is very charming. So when I came to here, I have to listen to French. I try to speak French, too, but it’s too tough,” she said.
Shin felt that the cold and damp weather conditions were more aligned with what she had expected for next week’s Ricoh Women’s British Open in Scotland, rather than the usually balmy summer conditions in Evian.
“I’m very surprised when I came to here it’s so cold and rainy. Feels like its Scotland,” she said.
Sunday’s final round at the Junior Cup, played on the same golf course, was washed out and there was further heavy rain on Tuesday morning, but players were praising the manicured layout. Tournament organisers said that course conditions were still immaculate with greens running at around 12 on the stimpmeter.