Two Koreans won both the PGA and LPGA titles for the first time on the same day on Sunday, while PGA golfer Im Sung-jae and LPGA golfer Ko Jin-young each won the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open took home and won the Cognizant Founders Cup resp.
There have been several occasions when Koreans won the PGA and LPGA titles on consecutive days, but never on the same day. In 2005, KJ Choi won the Chrysler Classic on October 2nd and Han Hee-won won the Office Depot Championship the next day after the finals were postponed for a day due to bad weather.
Since the new season for the PGA Tour opened in September, the Shriners Children’s Open is only the third event of the season.
Up until the previous 2020-2021 season, Korean PGA golfers have not had more than one win in a single season for over seven years since Noh Seung-Yul and Bae Sang-moon each won in 2014. In the 2018-2019 season, Kang Sung-hoon was the only Korean to win the PGA Tour. The following season, Im was the only Korean to win when he finished first at The Honda Classic. But last season, Kim Si-woo won The American Classic in January, followed by Lee Kyoung-hoon, who took another win at AT&T Byron Nelson in May.
My win at the start of the new season is a good start and could be the first step in developing Korean golf.
As for the LPGA Tour, the 2021 season is nearing its end with only three events left on the schedule.
This season has been relatively uneventful for the Korean Gulf, especially when compared to recent years when the Koreans dominated the field. In 2019, the Koreans won 15 titles from a total of 32 events. Ji Eun-hee opened the season with a win at the Diamond Resort Tournament in January and Kim Sei-young rounded off the season with a win at the CME Group Tour Championship in December. Korean golfers won thirteen trophies prior to October, four of which were knockouts.
In 2020, when the season was cut short due to Covid-19, Korean golfers still won seven out of 18 events. By this time last year there were four trophies in the hands of Park Hee-young, Park In-bee, Lee Mi-rim and Kim Sei-young, the fourth on October 11th at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship.
Although the LPGA Tour is getting most of its tournaments back this season, Korean golfers have only taken four Cognizant Founders Cup wins after an uneventful spring and summer. Kos win is Korea’s fifth win of the season and their third win of the season. Korea is now only one of a total of 200 victories since Ku Ok-hee won the Standard Register Turquoise Classic on March 27, 1988.
In the 100th start is the second PGA victory
Sung-jae made an incredible nine-under, 62, in the final round of the Shriners Children’s Open and took a four-shot win at TPC Summerlin in Las Vegas for his second career PGA Tour title.
I started the final lap three strokes behind the lead and opened first with a birdie on the par-4. Then Im did what he had to do to win by doing an incredible stunt of five consecutive birdies from par 5s to par 5 13.
“To be honest, I didn’t even know that I had screwed five holes in a row,” I said in an interview after the tournament.
“I was just constantly focused on every single hole in order to get through without a mistake. And that’s why it’s unbelievable that I did five in a row. ”
It wasn’t all fun and games for Im however, as he was disappointed with his move day performance when he fell out of the lead and carded a 70.
“The big difference between yesterday and today was that there was no wind, which made it easier,” said Im.
“The tee shot to the green, driver, iron and putting game worked the way I wanted it to [today]. ”
Last March, he won his first-ever PGA Tour title at The Honda Classic, becoming the tournament’s second-youngest winner after 1996 champion Tiger Woods, who won at the age of 20 years, nine months and six days. The Honda Classic was Im’s 50th tournament since joining the PGA Tour in 2019. This second title came along with his 100th tournament.
“Very meaningful victory,” I said.
“I know I won my first win on my 50th start and to win my second PGA Tour win on my 100th start, that’s a pretty amazing statistic in itself. I played so well and I’m glad I won. It was very difficult to win the first and I thought the second was going to be harder and harder. I just kept my patience and tried to keep my focus the entire time. ”
Compatriot Lee Kyoung-hoon was tied for 15th place, while Sung Kang was tied for 27th.
Im’s return to great shape couldn’t have come at a better time as the tour remains in Vegas for another week for the CJ CUP @ SUMMIT hosted by Im’s main sponsor, CJ, where he’ll be looking for a desert double.
Ko takes 10th win at the LPGA Tour
World number 2 Ko Jin-young won her 10th career win and third of the season in style at the Cognizant Founders Cup, leading the field for a wire to wire and defending her 2019 title.
Ko has mentioned in previous interviews that she thinks it’s easier to play at the top of the leaderboards than coming back from behind. This time Ko started at the top and came out as the winner. On the first day she carded an 8-under, 63, boggled four holes, and bogeyed one on the second day. Ko bogeyed twice on moving day, but four more birdies made up for it.
Despite the cool weather and light drizzle on the last day, Ko didn’t hesitate. With six birdies, Ko turned once on the 17th par-4, but that didn’t affect her top spot on the leaderboard by a four-stroke lead.
“I didn’t look at the scoreboard all day, just checked the 18th green,” said Ko. “My caddy said to me, ‘Did you notice?’ No. Yes, I did it and I’m so happy right now. ”
For the last time in 2019, Ko played the final two rounds without a bogey to four other golfers, including current No. 1 Nelly Korda in the United States, to beat a stroke. Ko is now the first player to successfully defend a title since Korda won the Taiwan LPGA Swinging Skirts in 2018 and 2019. Ko is also the fifth wire-to-wire winner of the season.
“This win is my tenth career win, so this is really something special,” said Ko. “I won this tournament two years ago, and I’ve waited from the original to here for two years. I’m under a lot of pressure in the course. I knew I was the defending champion and I knew that the 60s score beat Annika’s [and Ryu So-yeon’s] Record and wire-to-wire, so I had a lot of pressure on the track today. ”
Ko is now the only two golfers with three titles to join Korda this season. At the start of the season, Ko won the Volunteers of America Classic and the Cambia Portland Classic.
She is also the fifth Korean female golfer to have double-digit profits in LPGA Tour history, alongside Pak Se-ri who has 25 titles, Park In-bee who has 21, Kim Sei-young who has 12, and Shin Ji-yai, the 11th
Her victory and good form could not have come at a better time, as Ko will be jetting with other LPGA golfers to Busan to play at the BMW Championship at LPGA International Busan on October 21st.
BY YUN SO-HYANG [[email protected]]