At 17 years old, Youngin Chun (Gainesville, Florida) is the youngest member of the Symetra Tour this season and it’s a familiar spot for her to be in.
Even when she turns 18 in May, that title won’t change.
“I am nervous to play on the Symetra Tour in 2018, but I am very used to being the youngest player,” said Chun. “I am beyond thrilled to compete with other amazing players and can’t wait to experience the next level of golf. This has been my dream ever since I was five years old.”
Chun was one of the youngest competitors to qualify for the 2012 U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship. She also won the U.S. Kids Golf World Championship at the age of 10, and again when she was 12. That’s just the start of her résumé.
Next is an impressive list of American Junior Golf Association (AJGA) accomplishments. A four-time Rolex Junior All-American, Chun climbed as high as 4th in the Rolex AJGA rankings and won five AJGA titles in three years. One of those victories came at the 2017 Callaway Golf Junior Classic when she set a new El Conquistador Golf & Tennis - Cañada Course record in the final round with a score of 8-under par (64).
“I have been training ever since I was five,” said Chun, also a member of the triumphant 2017 U.S. PING Junior Solheim Cup team. “I believe in my game especially my steadiness, strong mentality, powerful swings and confidence. I always try my best to win against myself and overcome any obstacles.”
With all the success at such a young age, Chun began to focus her attention last summer on gaining Symetra Tour membership. In June, she petitioned LPGA Tour Commissioner Mike Whan to compete in the 2017 LPGA Qualifying Tournament through Stage II.
“I really wanted to take myself to the next level and challenge myself,” Chun said. “I thought I needed to experience the bigger world and I could not get that from the AJGA anymore because I achieved all my goals.”
After reviewing Chun’s petition, Whan allowed her to compete at Stage I and Stage II of the LPGA Qualifying Tournament with the ability to only earn Symetra Tour membership.
Even with the high stakes for the 17-year-old, she did not let anyone down. Chun advanced past Stage I, then fired a 2-under par overall at Stage II to finish tied for 18th and earn the Symetra Tour status she worked so hard for.
“During Q-School, the weather was terribly hot and almost made it impossible for me to pull out the fullest potential in my game,” said Chun. “However, I learned to overcome my weaknesses. I can take this to the Symetra Tour and continue to learn.”
Throughout her journey to this point, Chun has had perhaps her greatest motivator leading the way—her father, Eric Chun.
A commentator for JTBC’s Golf Channel with 10 years experience covering the LPGA in Korea, Eric also spent 17 years as a television host. That includes 10 years as the host of a show on the network called “World’s Greatest Teachers,” which featured golf coaches and players from around the world. Youngin made several appearances on the program and received lessons from the likes of Annika Sorenstam and David Leadbetter, among many others.
“As both a coach and dad, I think Youngin is a special person,” said Eric. “Comparing Youngin to other players, she is not less of a player even at young age. Youngin always does more than she is asked and always aims higher than I think she could reach, but reaches it tremendously.”
During the offseason, Chun has worked extensively on long irons as she plans to play the full Symetra Tour schedule this year. Off the course, a trip to Korea allowed her to meet family and friends, as well as work on core strength and endurance with a professional personal trainer.
Now less than two months out from the season-opening Florida’s Natural Charity Classic, Chun plans to have her father on the bag with the primary goal of earning a LPGA card for 2019.
“In amateur, she always had to worry about her rank in AJGA and was always stressed,” said Eric. “She is now free from all that and more confident in her game. I think she is ready to spread her wings and fly out.”