• Swing changes and a severe hip injury have taken its toll
• But hopes this week's change in format can benefit him
JIN JEONG | PAUL LAWRIE MATCH PLAY
He hasn’t made a cut for almost two years on the European Tour – but Jin Jeong is hopeful this week’s change in format can be the springboard to some more positive results.
Swing changes compounded by a severe hip injury has meant the 2010 Amateur champion’s once flourishing career has completely stalled, leaving him almost resigned to the fact that he will lose his European Tour status, which he earned until the end of this season following his win at the ISPS Handa Perth International in October 2013.
"I was seeing shots that I’d never seen before" - Jin Jeong
But 49 events and just four cuts made later – the most recent of which was at the Omega European Masters in September 2014 – Jin Jeong admitted that, as well as technical issues, confidence also played a huge part in his struggles.
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“Last year I got injured but before then I wasn’t hitting it great so started changing a few things with my swing,” Jin Jeong told bunkered.co.uk ahead of the Paul Lawrie Match Play. “The changes impacted badly on my body, which resulted in the injury to my right hip, and the more I practiced the worse it got. It got to the point where I was struggling to walk and even sleep.
“I was seeing shots that I’d never seen before and it was really damaging my confidence. I’ve struggled for so long now that there hasn’t been a particular bad point and it’s been about trying to get out of it as soon as I can.”
As well as the winning the 2010 Amateur Championship – where he beat Scot James Byrne 5&4 at Muirfield – Jin Jeong also has an Open Championship Silver Medal for an impressive T14 at St Andrews that year.
It’s all the more troubling, then, that this once prodigious talent could be lost to the European Tour come November – and he admits he has some serious work on his hands that will involve more than just making the cut.
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“We’ve got nine or ten events left and making cuts just simply isn’t going to be enough,” added Jin Jeong. “I’m going to have to have a couple of top tens or top fives – winning would be great.
“Results wise, no . But the way I’ve been feeling – again last week in Thailand I saw some more shots that I haven’t seen in a while – I’m feeling a lot more comfortable off the tee and hitting into the green. I’m starting to enjoy more just playing rather than trying to work on technique which is always a great sign.”
"Muirfield is just next door so I’m feeling a good energy" - Jin Jeong
After his worries in strokeplay events, this week’s matchplay format comes as a refreshing change for the South Korean, and he admits he’s feeling positive vibes teeing it up so close to his 2010 Amateur Championship success ahead of his first round clash against Mikko Ilonen at 1.10pm tomorrow.
“I haven’t played a matchplay tournament as a pro but always loved playing it as an amateur so I think it’s going to be a great week,” he said. “It’s great being here. Muirfield is just next door so I’m feeling a good energy and hopefully I can put in a good performance.”
Jin Jeong at the PL Match Play :: Can he beat Ilonen?
Do you think the change in format can work in Jin Jeong’s favour at the Paul Lawrie Match Play this week? Leave your thoughts in the ‘Comments’ section below.