Two-time Women’s British Open champion and former world number one Jiyai Shin will make her fourth appearance at the RACV Ladies Masters at the RACV Royal Pines Resort from February 25-28.
The 27-year-old South Korean thrill-seeker will add star-power to the field that includes seven Solheim Cup players as well as former champions Cheyenne Woods, Su Oh and Laura Davies.
Shin has 45 professional victories worldwide including 11 on the LPGA Tour, 21 on the LPGA of Korea Tour, 11 on the LPGA of Japan Tour and one on the Asian Golf Tour. She won her first Women’s British Open in 2008 and her second in 2012 when she defeated current world number two Inbee Park by nine shots. Shin also won the Evian Masters in 2010 and lost a playoff to Karrie Webb in the 2008 Women’s Australian Open.
“I am so happy to be playing in the RACV Ladies Masters on the Gold Coast,” Shin said. “Every time I visit the Gold Coast I really enjoy myself.
“The Gold Coast has beautiful beaches and great food, but the best part is playing in the fantastic golf tournament.
“I have great memories of playing in the event in previous years – meeting the fans, seeing all the other players and doing my best.
“Last time I played in the tournament I marked the occasion by taking my first skydive.
“I am looking forward to coming back, playing well and making more great memories.”
RACV Ladies Masters tournament chairman Bob Tuohy said Shin’s inclusion in the field was a tournament coup.
“Jiyai Shin is a world-class player,” Tuohy said. “Her credentials are fantastic and she is one of the world’s best ever players. I am thrilled she is playing again after finishing runner-up to Karrie Webb in 2007, sixth in 2008 and eighth in 2009.”
Minister for Tourism and Major Events Kate Jones said the addition of one the best players in women’s golf was a great boost to the tournament supported by Tourism and Events Queensland under the It’s Live! in Queensland events calendar.
“I’m delighted that Jiyai will return for the 2016 Ladies Masters, Queensland’s world-class women’s golf tournament, for another shot at claiming the title,” Ms Jones said.
“Attracting the world’s elite women players inspires thousands of visitors to Queensland and reinforces the Gold Coast’s reputation as a premier destination for major sporting events.
“Like many of the great athletes who come to our state, Jiyai likes to join in on many of the Gold Coast’s Famous for Fun experiences while at the best address on earth, Queensland.”
In 2008, Shin made the golfing world sit up and take notice when she became the first non-member to win three LPGA Tour events. A year later, she was named LPGA Tour Rookie of the Year and then topped the tour’s money list with more than $US1.8m ($A2.5m). Since then she has taken her career earnings to more than $US6m ($A8.5m).
Shin has an infectious smile, a winning personality and is extremely popular with fellow players. On tour, she’s known as the “Final Round Queen” – a moniker given to her for coming from behind in the final round. Another sobriquet is “Chalk Line” because of her penchant for hitting tee shots straight down the middle of the fairways.
She might be diminutive in stature (157cm or 5’1”), but her driving accuracy and greens in regulation statistics are first class. Her fairways hit statistics stand at 92.86 per cent and greens in regulation at 79.63 per cent. She also has amazing control and accuracy with her fairway metal and hybrid clubs.
Shin, who took up golf aged 11, honed her skills by reading Jack Nicklaus instructional books. Because Nicklaus was her idol, Shin even wore caps and apparel emblazoned with the Golden Bear logo even though she was not a paid endorser.
In 2005, aged 17 and still an amateur, Shin won her first LPGA of Korea Tour event. She turned professional at the end of 2005 and quickly became a dominant force on that tour winning Rookie of the Year in 2006 courtesy of three victories. She then took out back-to-back Player of the Year honours.
In 2007, Shin won 10 LPGA of Korea Tour events from 19 starts. While her career is littered with highlights, she was dealt a cruel blow when aged 16. Her mother was tragically killed in a road accident that left her brother and sister seriously injured. While the painful memory remains, Shin is happiest when she is playing golf and entertaining the galleries.
Her experience and quality of play make her one of the leading candidates to lift the RACV Ladies Masters impressive crystal trophy on Sunday, February 28.