9 reasons Jin Young Ko is the hottest golfer

by | Oct 14, 2021 | LPGA


Nick Piastowski

October 13, 2021

Jin Young Ko on Sunday after winning the Cognizant Founders Cup.

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Jin Young Ko has played six LPGA tournaments since the beginning of July – and won half of them. In her last four events she has finished sixth no worse than a draw. Ko, on Sunday at the Cognizant Founders Cup, won with four strokes – and with seven before the third-placed – and held her in possession of the prestigious title for around 900 days. (She won in 2019 and the 2020 tournament was canceled.)

Oh, and those rounds of 63, 68, 69 and 66 she did at Mountain Ridge Country Club in New Jersey this weekend? Rounds of 66, 65 and 69 in the ShopRite LPGA Classic followed. And rounds of 68, 66 and 67 at the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship. And laps of 69, 67 and 69 at the Cambia Portland Classic. And a final 69 at the Evian Championship. If you put all of this together, that’s a whopping 14 laps in a row under 70 – and thus the brand of the legendary Annika Sorenstam from 2005.

In one word: Wow.

But on one question that you, me, and any person who has ever tee off a ball would undoubtedly want to know, this is this:


jin boy ko waves to crowd

Jin Young Ko shoots the 14th round in a row (!) In the 60s and wins the Founders Cup

James Colgan

How did Ko get into the conversation about player of the year alongside Nelly Korda? How do you not think she’ll end the season in a similar style? (The next event, the BMW Ladies Championship in two weeks, takes place in her home country South Korea and the season ends with two events in Florida next month.) How did she become the hottest player in the world? All good questions, and, yes, the simple explanation is, She’s just fine, man!

But in an insightful interview after the founders, Ko pulled the curtain back a bit. Let’s listen:

Ko skipped a major before this run

Ko shared 60th place at the end of July at Evian, the fourth major of the season, and ninth place at the Olympic golf competition in early August and only played on the LPGA Tour at the Portland event over a month later. Although she only missed two events – the Solheim Cup, for which she is not eligible, was also held during that time – one of the last major of the season was the AIG Women’s Open.

Your reason? With a South Korean team made up of four of the top five players in the world at the time, competing in the Olympics was not dissimilar for an all-star team.

“Yes, I had to rest after the Olympics because I was under a lot of pressure before the Olympics because the Korean team is really hard to come by at the Olympics,” said Ko. “So I was under a lot of stress and pressure, and I changed my swing coach after the Olympics, so I need to fix something on my swing and putting.

“So I skipped the major, AIG, major tournament and was really sad. I really wanted to play at the British Open because I love to play against the British, but I have to make time for my swing trainer and this new putter. “

Ko has made a swing adjustment

Before Portland, Ko said she made a “basic” adjustment to her swing:

“Just keep my spine – or just don’t move from right to left.”

“So did you shake a little?” She was asked.

“Yes, before the Olympics. Yes, ”said Ko.

Ko has also made a club change

Ko has made a remarkable move in equipment. About a month and a half ago, she said she switched to a Scotty Cameron Phantom X 5.5, started using it during her win in Portland last month – and it won’t be coming out of her pocket for a while.

“I think I love this putter,” she said.

What made you choose it?

“I don’t know,” said Ko. “Well, when I was in Korea I went to the Titleist shop and found the putter and tried it and said can I get this and they said yes, do it. So I got this one and used this putter from four weeks ago until today. “

Ko’s parents were with her

Ko watched her mother Mi Kyung Kim and her father Sung Tae Ko. In a story for the LPGA Tour website in 2020, the younger Ko wrote, “I’m a bit different from most LPGA Tour players who are from Korea in that neither my parents nor my grandparents brought me to golf.

“My father, Sung Tae Ko, was a boxer earlier in his life. And while my mother, Mi Kyung Kim, started playing golf as an adult, she didn’t take me to the course or the range. It wasn’t until I was in elementary school that my dad and I saw a rerun of Se Ri Pak, who won the US Women’s Open, and I said, ‘I think I’d like to try that.’ So my father and I took our first golf shots on the same day. “

Ko loved being the leader

Ko led the founders from the start. Then she was asked: “Do you feel safer in such situations than when you have to run after the leader?”

“Yes, I think so,” said Ko. “I love it – the other players are following me and I was at the top and had to concentrate more than the other players, so I love that.”

Ko never checked the scoreboard

As her lead swelled last week, she said her caddy asked her on the 18th if she knew.

Only then did she do it.

“I was just trying to focus on my body and my swing,” said Ko. “I don’t want to look at the scoreboard and the other players.

“Yes, I only talk to myself on the course.”

“I’m just trying to have fun”

Ko set Sorenstam’s 60s record. Her victory on Sunday was her tenth place overall and thus finished 54th on the all-time list. Two years ago she played 114 holes without a bogey, surpassing Tiger Woods’ grade of 110. After her win on Sunday, she was asked: What does that mean for you?

“I don’t know,” said Ko. “I just play – I just concentrate on myself. The others, like Tigers or Annika Sorenstam, I just play alone and with these great professional girls. I don’t know what happened to me. [She laughed.]

“I don’t know. I’m just having fun. I’m just trying to have fun on the court with my caddy and the other players. Yeah.”

Nap and Netflix

Ko was two meters away from a possible third win in their last four tournaments. But after missing a birdie putt from this distance on the final hole at ShopRite and landing one shot behind winner Celine Boutier, she pulled the plug. And turned on Netflix.

“For example, I was a little sad on Sunday, so I didn’t want to bring ShopRite here,” Ko said on Thursday. “I just like – I need to refresh my mind and also for golf, and I didn’t practice a lot before the tournament.

“I just took a nap and watched Netflix. Yes nothing.”

Can’t beat that.

“Yes,” said Ko.

Cookies and Brownies and Corned Beef and Turkey and Salad

In her final words on Sunday, Ko Cognizant thanked the founders’ sponsor. And … the chef from Mountain Ridge.

Apparently the club has more than just hot dogs and chips. The win was sweet and so was the food.

“Yes, the food was fantastic,” said Ko. “I had a lot of cookies this week. [She laughed.] And brownies too. And I like to eat corned beef. I had a lot of beef and turkey this week. Like salad was really good.

“I’m hungry right now.”

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Nick Piastowski

Golf.com editor