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Keeping Up With Jin Young Ko

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In the world of Professional Women’s Golf there are many extraordinary players. However, since the start of 2018 very few, if any, have been as impressive as the current World Number One, Jin Young Ko. The South Korean native won LPGA Rookie of the Year honors in 2018, after accumulating 13 top-10’s, including a win in her first start as an LPGA Tour member at the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open. She finished the year ranked 10th in the Rolex Rankings.

In 2019 the floodgates opened, with Ko winning five times globally. She had four victories on the LPGA Tour, including Major Championship triumphs at the ANA Inspiration and the Evian Championship. She added another victory on the LPGA of Korea (KLPGA), at the Hite Jinro Championship. 2019 also saw Jin Young rise to Number One in the Rolex Rankings after her victory at the ANA Inspiration. She briefly lost the top-ranking to Sung Hyun Park before reclaiming the top position on July 29, 2019. Ko has been in that position ever since!

So, what is the World Number One up to? How is Jin Young performing? Is she working on anything new?

Follow along to find out!

I will consistently update this page with tournament results, stats, quotes, and more!

Nearly Victorious in LA

27 April 2021

Jin Young played the HUGEL-AIR PREMIA LA Open this past week, her first start since the ANA Inspiration. And the World Number One nearly walked away hoisting the trophy!

But before I talk about that, lets start with a little refresher.

In 2020 (and currently) the entire world felt the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. The LPGA Tour, like many things, came to a halt. There was a near six month hiatus as the Tour, golf courses, and sponsors tried to figure out the safest way for tournament golf to return. When the Tour did return in late July, Ko elected to stay in her home country of South Korea. However, the KLPGA offered the World Number One an opportunity to play events, and stay sharp competitively. In fact, she played six tournaments in Korea, and had four top-ten finishes. Including a runner-up and a third place finish. After much thought, observation, and consideration, Jin Young made her 2020 LPGA Tour debut in November, at the Pelican Women’s Championship presented by DEX Imaging and Konica Minolta. She would finish T34, pretty subpar by her lofty standards. But any glimpses of hope by her fellow competitors, that perhaps, Ko would not be on her A-game for the last few events of the year was short lived. She finished solo fifth at the Volunteers of America Classic. And then, a wild year became even more wild. Lacking status because of so few starts, and without a sponsors invitation to the season ending CME Group Tour Championship, the 25 year old had only one way to get into the final event of the year. She needed to finish in the Top-4 at the last Major Championship of 2021. And she did it! She did it by finishing T2 at the US Women’s Open.

Improving on her week in Houston at the US Women’s Open would not be easy. The only possible way to improve on a runner-up finish is to win. And Ko did just that! Winning the Tour Championship convincingly, a spectacular week of golf in Naples, Florida propelled her to a 5-shot victory and the $1.1 million first place paycheck. Turns out finishing runner-up, and first, at events with the two largest purses in Women’s golf is pretty nice. She claimed the LPGA Money Title in just four starts. Incredible.

Jin Young Ko at the 2019 LPGA LA Open at Wilshire Country Club. | Photo: Ben Harpring

Now, to this past week in Los Angeles.

Jin Young finished the week in LA tied for third!

In her three starts at Wilshire Country Club, Ko has never finished worse than fifth.

In 2018 she finished T2. In 2019 T5. And this year she finished third.

However, what makes this year’s result even more impressive? In her post tournament press conference she revealed that she had not practiced leading up to the event. Why, you may ask? The world number one has been nursing a wrist injury.

Ko said, “So I didn’t practice before each round, but I finished great still.”

I concur.

Interestingly, the World Number One was slightly off her game in the Final Round. If not for her brilliant play the previous three days, we might not have been surprised, especially with the injury revelation. She was one of only two players that finished inside the Top-17 to be over par (+1, 72) on Saturday. (The tournament finished on Saturday so that players could get a head start on their trip to Singapore for this week’s HSBC Women’s World Championship.) Despite not having the Final Round finish she would have liked, her performance for the week was very impressive. I think this speaks a lot to Ko’s greatness, that even on weeks where not everything is going according to plan, she still had an opportunity to win.

Here’s a few stats to help give us a better understanding of Jin Young’s great play last week, and this season so far:

  • In LA she hit 57/72 greens in regulation. Or 79%
  • She hit 48/56 fairways for the week. Or 86%
  • And she averaged 28 putts per round in LA
  • For the season Ko is hitting 77.47% of her greens in regulation. Currently ranked 7th on Tour.
  • And she ranks 24th in Putts per Green in Regulation, with 1.77 putts per GIR. Capitalizing on the high number of greens she hits.
  • Currently she ranks 8th in scoring average, with an average score of 69.56.

Up Next:

Ko is playing at this week’s HSBC Women’s World Championship.

In her last two starts in Singapore the World Number One finished T6 in 2018 and T3 in 2019.

Jin Young is coming into the week with momentum, and great memories from past play. Don’t be surprised to see her contending again.

Source: Womens Golf LPGA News and Lessons