Andrew West / The News-Press / USA Today Network
The LPGA had a good thing … but Jin Young Ko was just too good.
At the beginning of the weekend, the women’s tour announced a new schedule for 2022 that includes record cash (nearly $ 87 million) and prestigious golf courses such as Muirfield and Congressional Country Club.
“The stage is set for 2022 to be one of the most exciting years in the history of the LPGA Tour,” said Commissioner Mollie Marcoux Samaan in a statement.
Is that true? At the same time, the conditions for the current season have been created in order to draw one of the most exciting conclusions the league has ever seen. We’re talking about a heavyweight showdown here, the two biggest stars in the LPGA universe, wo-mano and wo-mano with all of the enchilada at stake.
We speak of Muhammad Ali versus Joe Frazier, Wilt Chamberlain versus Bill Russell, Tom Brady versus Peyton Manning. We’re talking about Nelly Korda versus Jin Young Ko and the final round of the CME Group Tour Championship, also known as the “Nutcracker in Naples”.
If you weren’t careful, the pair have been playing music chairs with the # 1 women’s ranking for the past few months. They went into the week as the only four-time winners. They came on the last tee on Sunday in a four-way tie for the lead, the only players on the four-way-road with a chance of finishing as Player of the Year.
In sport you seldom see a more spectacular setup. At the same time, it is even rarer when the outcome of the affair corresponds to the anticipation. The LPGA had a good week, no question about it, it just didn’t end on fireworks. Every party has one and this one was no different. Ko just didn’t want to cooperate, she became a party-goer.
While struggling with pain in her left wrist, she felt no pain on her scorecard and did not leave any doors unlocked. Ko, who took a series of seven birdies in the third round on Saturday, made three of the top four on the last trip with birdies, distributed nine birdies around the site and pulled a road runner with a Sunday 63 into the crowd from WiIe E. Coyote .
Do you want consistency? The score was Ko 24th in their last 25 competition rounds in the 1960s.
“I don’t know what happened out there,” said Ko, who said that because of her wrist, she didn’t work out all week. “This week has been amazing.”
On this amazing journey, she once again overtook Korda as the No. 1 in the world of women. She won the Rolex Player of the Year Award and saved $ 1.5 million with her fifth win of the season. The drama wasn’t what it could have been, but the promised all-or-nothing outcome was fulfilled. Ko ran the table – game, set game.
Korda, whose season included a major championship and an Olympic gold medal, was undefeated for her performance in the finals. Her 69 was her fourth round in the ’60s during the championship and the eighth in a row over two events. She just couldn’t catch up with Kos Fastball.
Nasa Hataoka finished just one shot back, but needed birdies on the last two holes and needed a 64 on her card to do so. Nobody could keep up with Ko, and nobody could have guessed that she would end this season with all wins and marbles.
Earlier this season, she seriously considered giving up her LPGA card and returning to her home in Seoul, South Korea. Her grandmother got sick and then died in March. Ko couldn’t travel to be with her and had to say goodbye on a Zoom call. Had she been home playing the Korean version of the LPGA Tour, she could have been with her grandmother. From a distance, the loss was even more devastating.
“I would say I don’t really want to play golf on this tour,” Ko said last week. “Yes, because if I played at KLPGA I could meet them away. This is the first time that I really don’t want to play on the LPGA Tour. “
Instead of giving up, Ko leaned on her grandma: “If I missed a lot of putts, she would call me after the tournament: ‘Why did you do that? More focus on the putting green and we did it.’
“So I tried to practice hard for putting and I won. I win a lot of tournaments. ”
She won three times in September, again in October, and now, with everything at stake, she won again. It hit all 14 fairways, it hit all 18 greens. She only needed 28 putts and she drew courage from the anticipated grudge battle with Korda.
What the LPGA finale lacked in the theater made up for in dynamic execution. Ko turned the heavyweight fight into a crooked laugh, and she made her grandma proud.