Injury-free Chun is ready to step up for Stanford
POSTED: Friday, October 31, 2008
Stanford senior Mari Chun (Kamehameha '05) is a Japanese language major, but she could just as easily be in medical school.
» College: Stanford
» Class: Senior
» High School: Kamehameha '05
» Honors: Twice named to the All-Pac-10 second team; NGCA second-team All-American selection as a sophomore and honorable mention as a junior; two-time winner of the Edean Ihlanfeldt Invitational.
Her collegiate golf career has been filled with so many trips to the doctor, it takes her a few minutes just to rattle off every ailment she has endured.
"Three injuries last year, one my sophomore year and two my freshman year," Chun said. "Sprained right ankle, tendinitis in my left Achilles' heel, muscle tightness in my left and right upper traps, left quad injury, and the other injury is basically a muscle imbalance."
With all of that to deal with, it's amazing Chun was a key part of her team winning two tournaments, made the Pac-10 second team twice and posted a top-20 finish in the NCAA championships.
"It's definitely been a challenge," Chun said.
Through all the trials and tribulations, it's been a wonderful journey for one of the most successful high school golfers ever to come out of Hawaii.
But after taking this past summer off to recover, Chun began her senior season feeling like a new golfer, pain-free and excited at the possibilities that await.
"I went through physical therapy at home and my instructor and my family all worked really hard to help me through the process," Chun said. "There's still some imbalance I have to work on, but I feel as good as I've been in a long time."
Through four events, Chun is already showing the benefits to being healthy. Her 73.5 stroke average is the same it was her sophomore season, when she was named to the NAGA All-America second team.
Earlier this month, she won the second tournament of her career, capturing individual medalist honors at the Edean Ihlanfeldt Invitational.
Not bad for a golfer who didn't play all summer, and only began hitting the ball again two weeks before school.
"I definitely have a lot of work to do," Chun said. "But when I did get healthy, about two weeks before I left for school, I've been doing my best to balance as much practice as I can in with my academics."
The Kamehameha standout returned home this week to compete in the Kent Youel Invitational at Kapolei Golf Course.
After shooting a 3-over 75 the first 18, Chun bounced back with rounds of 71 and 70 to finish in a tie for fifth place in front of a fairly large gallery of family and friends.
"It's pretty special for me," Chun said. "I was grateful they all could come out, especially on a weekday when everyone's busy."
In high school, Chun dominated the links in Hawaii, winning the Interscholastic League of Honolulu championship twice; as well as other tournaments, including the Hawaii State Women's Golf Association Stroke Play and Jennie K. Wilson championships.
This was her second time playing in Hawaii as a Cardinal, and it brought back fond memories of her high school career.
"Growing up (in Hawaii), I feel very comfortable being at home, Chun said. "A lot of it was having my family and friends come out to watch, because it's hard for them to make the trip (to the mainland) to watch me in other tournaments."
Part of the challenge of being an athlete at Stanford is balancing academics with athletics, and this week was a perfect example.
After wrapping up the tournament on Wednesday, Chun was on a flight back to California at 9 p.m. Hawaii time. She arrived on the mainland at around 5 the next morning West Coast time, and by 9:30 a.m., she was back in the classroom.
"I don't think it's one of the easiest processes to undertake, but it's doable," Chun said. "There's times when you leave and you have to come back and catch up and get ahead all in one week, it's a little rough.
"But it's my fourth year, so I'm definitely used to it and I'm seasoned with that type of schedule."
She'll have time now to focus on academics, as this was the final tournament of the fall season for the Cardinal.
Chun won't play again until the Northrop Grumman Regional Challenge in February, where she hopes to play her best golf yet.
She will graduate in the spring, and although she is unsure the exact path she'll take, she hopes professional golf is in her future.
"I'm trying to get my game ready so I can hopefully turn professional when I graduate," Chun said. "Maybe not exactly then, but I at least want to try to play the professional game."