The Colony, Texas – Jin Young Ko wanted a new trophy for her new home in Texas, and she even picked up something for the closet.
She received a pair of cowboy boots for winning Sunday’s Volunteers of America Classic.
The South Korean star had to work hard for her one-shot win. Her putting was not up to her standards. Their game didn’t feel quite as sharp as it did during the nearly two-year reign of Ko as number 1 in the world rankings for women.
But it was enough for a 2-under 69 that ended with seven straight pars for a one-shot win over Matilda Castren of Finland at the Old American Golf Club, about 30 minutes from Kos new home.
“I thought these boots were a good size for me,” said Ko. “So yeah, I just bought a house and then I want to get a new trophy because my old trophies are in Korea. But this new one is something special. “
The timing couldn’t have been better.
Ko won for the first time this year, and it was a week after losing number 1 to Nelly Korda, who knocked out Ko by winning the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship.
Ko had failed to make it into the top 10 in four of their previous five starts on the LPGA Tour. But it flourished not far from its American home in the Dallas area. She finished at 16 under 268 for her eighth career LPGA win. It remains at number 2 in the world.
“I thought I was under a lot of pressure with the No. 1 ranking,” said Ko. “But I did it this week. I am very happy.”
Ko opened with three birdies in four holes to extend their lead. Castren, who won her first LPGA Tour title three weeks ago at Lake Merced, kept her sights on her with a pair of birdies before she turned the corner.
“I thought I couldn’t win this week because, like Matilda, she played very well today and yesterday,” said Ko. “It’s like focusing on my game on the pitch and then trying not to think about Matilda playing, driver punch or whatever. And it was tough. But yes, she is a good player. “
Castren was in danger of losing three strokes on Par-5 13 when she was in trouble from the tee box and had 20 feet left for par while Ko had about 12 feet for a birdie chance. Castren pocketed her par putt, Ko missed and the lead stayed at one.
The roles were switched at the next hole when Ko missed her tee shot far to the right and could not reach the green. Castren had a wedge in the green but failed to convert for birdie and Ko saved par.
The tournament swung on the 15th hole when Castren missed a 3-foot par putt that snapped hard to the left and fell two strokes behind. She climbed up and down for birdie just before the par-5 17 and stayed in play when Ko missed her birdie putt from 6 feet.
Castren had a 25-foot birdie from the back of the 18th green that missed to the right and set up Ko’s winning par-putt of just under 3 feet.
“I’ve been playing with her for the past two days and it was just cool watching her play,” Castren said. “She didn’t make a lot of mistakes, she recovered really well from her not-so-great shots. I can definitely understand why she was number 1 in the world for so long. “
Gaby Lopez from Mexico finished with a 65 and was her only bogey on the last hole. She ended up alone in third place, two strokes behind.
Esther Henseleit from Germany could be played with five holes within two strokes. But on the 14th her drive went under a tree and she suffered a penalty drop. She then made a four-foot putt and did her second double bogey of the round, falling four strokes back.
Henseleit finished with a 72 and finished fourth with Ana Belac (68) and Emma Talley, who scored a 63 for her career-low round on the LPGA Tour.
Ko had a lot of support at Old American, with a large contingent of Koreans in the gallery. Ko is one of several South Koreans who are based in the Dallas area.
Her father’s birthday was Thursday, and Ko opened at 63. Her parents stayed at the Old American because it was a short drive from their new home.
“It was a great week,” said Ko.
Cameron Beckman shot five birdies in a row to start the second nine and ended up holding his first title with a 4-under 68 and a one-shot win over Ernie Els at the Dick’s Sporting Goods Open in Endicott, New York the PGA Tour champions.
Beckman, a three-time PGA Tour winner, has earned full status in the PGA Tour Champions and a spot in next week’s US Senior Open.
Els, who started the final lap three strokes ahead, finished with a 72 and came second.
Beckman finished his five straight birdies with a 50-foot putt across the 14th green, and when Els made a pair of bogeys, Beckman suddenly had a four-shot lead with four holes to play.
Then it was time to hold on.
The native of Minnesota took the bogey in 15th place. Els drove the green on the par-4-16h hole, teeing off with a driver throwing 3 feet behind the hole, and missing the 15-foot eagle putt. Beckman failed to come up and down for birdie and the lead was reduced to two.
Els caught the left lip with a 15-foot birdie attempt on the 17th par-3 while Beckman missed the green on the left, chopping off to 2.50m and calmly rolling it in.
At the final hole at En-Joie Golf Club, Beckman had a two-shot lead and pulled his drive left into the water. He took a penalty drop and hit his third shot at 20 feet.
Els had 92 yards for his second shot but left it about 25 feet short and was well short with his birdie putt.
Beckman delayed his par-putt an inch, marked the ball to finish Els, then turned and clenched his fist. It was the first time he showed emotion.
Third place went to David Tooms (67), Retief Goosen (66), Wes Short Jr. (68), Miguel Angel Jimenez (69) and Paul Goydos (68).
Lucas Herbert completed a wire-to-wire win at the Irish Open in Thomastown, Ireland, shooting 4 under 68 in the finals to win three strokes and secure a spot at the British Open as well.
It was Herbert’s second title on the European Tour, after the Dubai Desert Classic in January 2020.
Herbert started the final round with a one-shot advantage and briefly lost the absolute lead when he was supported by Francesco Laporta after the Spanish player’s breathtaking run of six straight birdies from No. 5.
Herbert then found himself with his American playing partner Johannes Veerman, who putted a long putt from right to left on No. 14, under the lead at 17.
The Australian cleared a birdie on the 15th and took the lead with two strokes as he paced up and down from a green bunker to par while Veerman bogeyed from another.
Herbert walked the last one with a three-shot lead – and with spectators behind him holding umbrellas in the rain – after a tap-in birdie on the 17th par-5. He pounded in the air with delight after rolling a 10-foot par putt in 18th place to finish 19-under 269.