There was a lot going on for Jin Young Ko at the BMW Ladies Championship. The 26-year-old from Seoul was the talking point of the tournament in the first round, where a round in the 60s would have meant breaking Annika Sorenstam’s record for the most consecutive competitive under-70s. Kos one under 71 wasn’t enough, so she had to bet on a draw with Annika when she was 14. Still, there was a possibility that if a South Korean won the BMW, she would claim the 200th victory for her home country on the LPGA Tour. The pressure on Ko, the senior South Korean player, was only increased by the fact that all of this happened in her home country of South Korea.
But Ko was able to put the pressure aside and do what she does best: hit a staggering number of greens (62 out of 72 for the week at LPGA International Busan) and drop deep on Sunday. Ko shot a 64 in the final round, which meant she and 54-hole leader Hee Jeong Lim (68) were tied at 22 under. Ko defeated Lim on the first playoff hole with a birdie. It was her first playoff triumph and the third time in her career that she won an event after starting the finals four strokes behind. The win was Ko’s 11th on the LPGA Tour.
“It’s a great honor,” said Ko. “And I think it’s very lucky that I’m the player, the player with the 200th win, and I’m really happy that it was an event in Korea too. And of course, being the Korean player’s 200th win wasn’t a goal I was working towards. It just so happens that I was really focused and doing my best and that came. So I am very happy and satisfied. “
The win at BMW is Kos’ second win in their last two starts after winning the Cognizant Founders Cup title and their fourth in 2021, the most by all players. A week before the Founders Cup, Ko finished T-2 at the ShopRite LPGA Classic. With these placings it should come as no surprise that Ko is likely to regain her position as number 1 in the world after the BMW and overtake Nelly Korda, who was not in the field with the BMW.
This victory comes with other awards for Ko. There are two more events on the LPGA Tour calendar, but Ko won the Leaders Top 10 competition and the $ 100,000 prize that goes to the player who finishes the season with the most top 10 finishes. Her victory also puts her ahead of Korda on the Rolex Player of the Year points list. She leads with 15 points.
Ko’s latest success comes after a tumultuous early season. She wasn’t happy with her swing and said her game lacked “flow”. Then her grandmother got sick. Due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, she was unable to be with her family in South Korea. Instead, she prepared and played for the ANA Inspiration and the US Women’s Open.
“During ANA week, I slept maybe three to four hours a day because I cried so much,” said Ko. “I thought to myself, what’s the use of all this? I was very skeptical about why I played golf when I couldn’t be there for my grandmother. I am actually the oldest granddaughter and my family went through a difficult time. I couldn’t be there for my family. And luck is very important to me. So golf is a means of getting there. There is no end for me Back then, I really had doubts about why I played golf. But I think time heals everything. And after Singapore, I came to Korea, I could [see] my grandmother, and it just gave me a lot of comfort. “
Ko found her luck on the golf course at the right time. There are two more events on the LPGA Tour calendar, the last one being the CME Group Tour Championship, where the winner’s check is the biggest in women’s golf: $ 1.5 million. There’s a lot of pressure to play for a big paycheck and Player of the Year award, but Ko continues to prove she can handle it.