Ko Jin-young pleased with victorious finish to roller-coaster LPGA season

유지호 / 2021-11-23 19:07:31
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LPGA golfer-return
▲ South Korean LPGA golfer Ko Jin-young waves to cameras after arriving at Incheon International Airport in Incheon, just west of Seoul, on Nov. 23, 2021. (Yonhap)

▲ South Korean LPGA golfer Ko Jin-young speaks to reporters at Incheon International Airport in Incheon, just west of Seoul, on Nov. 23, 2021. (Yonhap)

▲ In this Getty Images photo, Ko Jin-young of South Korea poses with the LPGA Player of the Year trophy after winning the CME Group Tour Championship at Tiburon Golf Club in Naples, Florida, on Nov. 21, 2021. (Yonhap)

▲ In this Getty Images photo, Ko Jin-young of South Korea tees off at the 18th hole during the final round of the CME Group Tour Championship on the LPGA Tour at Tiburon Golf Club in Naples, Florida, on Nov. 21, 2021. (Yonhap)

LPGA golfer-return

Ko Jin-young pleased with victorious finish to roller-coaster LPGA season

INCHEON, Nov. 23 (Yonhap) -- With the LPGA Tour's top individual award in tow, South Korean golfer Ko Jin-young received a hero's welcome home on Tuesday, as she heads into an offseason determined to keep improving her game.

Ko captured her second career Player of the Year award and third straight money title after winning the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship in Florida on Sunday.

Despite persistent pains in her left wrist, Ko put on a ball-striking clinic at Tiburon Golf Club. In firing a bogey-free final round of nine-under 63, Ko hit every fairway and reached every green in regulation.

For the tournament, Ko missed only five out of 56 fairways and five out of 72 greens.

Ko became the first South Korean to win multiple LPGA Player of the Year awards, and the first LPGA player to win three consecutive money titles since Lorena Ochoa from 2006 to 2008.

Ko's first-place prize money of US$1.5 million equaled the largest winner's share in women's golf history.

"I think I was really fortunate to have won the money title and the Player of the Year award," Ko told reporters at Incheon International Airport. "I didn't think I could really win those awards."

Ko said 2021 was the most trying season of her career emotionally, with the passing of her grandmother in March weighing heavily on her heart for the rest of the season. But she couldn't have asked for a better finish.

"I think I spent more energy this year than any other season, because of the emotional roller coaster I've been on," Ko said. "But I had such a thrilling conclusion, and I will remember this season for a long time."

Ko beat out Nelly Korda of the United States for both the top player honor and the money title. Ko also led the LPGA Tour with five wins this year.

But the American stayed ahead of Ko in the latest world rankings released Monday, with a 10.07-9.94 lead in average points.

Ko said she didn't expect herself to topple Korda immediately but added her time will come in the not-so-distant future.

Ko was the No. 1 female golfer for the entire 2020 season, and then Korda overtook Ko in June this year. Ko regained the top spot last month, only to see Korda returning the favor two weeks later.

"Nelly has been really solid and I thought I would need more victories to return to No. 1," Ko said. "But I have no regrets (about the ranking position). If I play better next year, I should be able to reach the top again soon."

Though Ko claimed the tour's top individual award, she said she would only give herself an 80 out of 100 for her performance this season.

She deducted 20 points for failing to win a major championship and finishing off the podium at the Tokyo Olympics.

"Before the Olympics, I had trouble focusing on my play because I was under so much pressure," said Ko, who had been viewed as a strong medal contender but finished in a six-way tie for ninth. "But once the Olympics ended, I felt like a huge mountain that had stood in front of me disappeared, and I was able to relax at tournaments afterward."

Four of Ko's five wins came after the Olympics.

(END)

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