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Top LPGA award within grasp, Ko Jin-young trying to stay in the moment

October 24, 2019

Ko Jin-young, world No. 1 in women’s golf, can make an already outstanding season even better this week.

With a finish of sixth place or higher at the inaugural BMW Ladies Championship in Busan, Ko will clinch the Player of the Year Award. And she put herself in a good position in Thursday’s first round by shooting a bogey-free round of five-under 67, one behind the leader, Minjee Lee of Australia.

Asked about the possibility of securing the top individual award at home, Ko said she won’t looking that far down the road.

Ko Jin-young of South Korea hits her second shot at the 18th hole during the first round of the BMW Ladies Championship at LPGA International Busan in Busan, 450 kilometers southeast of Seoul, on Oct. 24, 2019. (Yonhap)
Ko Jin-young of South Korea waves to the crowd at the 17th hole during the first round of the BMW Ladies Championship at LPGA International Busan in Busan, 450 kilometers southeast of Seoul, on Oct. 24, 2019. (Yonhap)

Ko Jin-young of South Korea hits her second shot at the 18th hole during the first round of the BMW Ladies Championship at LPGA International Busan in Busan, 450 kilometers southeast of Seoul, on Oct. 24, 2019. (Yonhap)

“There are still 54 holes of golf left to play,” Ko said. “Obviously, it’d be great to win the award here. But I see (winning awards) as part of the process of becoming a complete golfer. If I keep focusing on the process, a lot of things will naturally follow.”

Ko, who is also No. 1 in LPGA in money and scoring average, is leading fellow South Korean Lee Jeong-eun by 239-123 for the Player of the Year. Golfers earn 30 points per victory and 12 points for a runner-up finish, and so forth. There will be three tournaments left after this week. Points are doubled at majors but there are none left in 2019.

This means if Ko earns five points by finishing sixth this week, Lee won’t be able to catch her even if she wins the three remaining events.

But Ko wasn’t concerned about how high she has to rank here to get her hands on the top player award. She said she will try to control what she can control.

“I don’t want to be a player who keeps thinking about the future and doesn’t take care of the task at hand,” Ko added. “I’ll try to play hard over the next three days, and I’ll think about the result later.”

The 24-year-old is playing in her fifth consecutive week, a stretch that included a stop in Shanghai last weekend. She admitted it can be tough to play for that many weeks in a row, though she did have four weeks off before embarking on this run and traveling isn’t as strenuous as what she deals with in the United States.

“I’ll try to keep it going for another week after this (at Taiwan Swinging Skirts LPGA) and then I’ll have two weeks off,” Ko said. “Then I’ll look to finish the season on a high note (at the CME Group Tour Championship).”

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