Jin Young Ko is tied for third, four shots off the lead at the Evian Championship after three rounds. The most impressive section of her third-round 66 was the five-hole stretch starting at 12. She went birdie-bogey-birdie-bogey-birdie. Each time she made a mistake, she was able to overcome it and correct it on the next hole. A high level of mental fortitude is necessary to do that over consecutive holes. It’s something she’s been working on for the past year.
“Bogey is fine,” said Ko of the tumultuous stretch. “I’m not a robot. I’m human.”
Ko said she started working with a sports psychologist in Korea a year ago, and realizing that she is in fact human is one of the focuses of their work. She struggled with being a perfectionist when she practiced. She says her coach has helped her deal with the reality that mistakes will happen, that she is just human. Accepting that bogeys happen help free her up to be able to make birdies on the next hole.
Ko and her mental coach are also working on prioritizing happiness both on the course and off.
“Happiness is really important to my life, so I…always try happiness,” Ko said. “Like personal life, on the course, or outside golf.”
Throughout her press conference after her third round, Ko referenced staying happy and smiling on the course several times. It’s a reminder that playing golf is, fundamentally, a source of joy — something that can be easy to forget in a tournament setting.
The 22-year-old former World No. 1 from South Korea won her first major title this year, the 2019 ANA Inspiration.