World No. 1 Ko Jin-young eyes 3rd career LPGA major on historic course

June 21, 2023

Having reclaimed the top spot in the women’s world golf rankings this spring, South Korean star Ko Jin-young will take aim at winning her third career LPGA major title this week on a famed track.

The KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, the second major tournament of the LPGA season, will tee off at Baltusrol Golf Club in Springfield, New Jersey, on Thursday (local time). Founded in 1895, Baltusrol has hosted the U.S. Women’s Open twice, along with seven men’s U.S. Opens and two men’s PGA Championships.

Ko, who won the HSBC Women’s World Championship in March and the Cognizant Founders Cup in May, is the only South Korea to have reached the winner’s circle in the LPGA this year. After beginning this year at No. 5 in the world rankings, Ko reclaimed the top spot on May 22. Then on Monday, Ko tied the record for most weeks spent at No. 1 in the women’s rankings with 158.

Ko will now try to break the deadlock with Lorena Ochoa with a win at Baltusrol.

Both of Ko’s two major titles so far came in 2019, a monumental year in which she also won two other tournaments, the money title, the Vare Trophy as the scoring champion and the Player of the Year award.

Ko has played in 12 majors since winning the Evian Championship in July 2019 and recorded seven top-10 finishes.

So far in 2023, Ko has been inside top 10 in five of her eight tournaments.

Fellow South Korean player Chun In-gee is the defending champion this week. Unlike Ko, however, Chun has not played well this season, with zero top-10s and two missed cuts in seven events. She had been dealing with lower back pains, which sidelined her for about a month starting in May. She returned to action last week at the Meijer LPGA Classic for Simply Give and missed the cut.

Chun, on the other hand, has been a big-time player. Three of her four LPGA wins have come at major tournaments. Her best showing so far in 2023 is a tie for 18th at the Chevron Championship in April, the first major of the season.

Other South Koreans in the field this week include Ryu Hae-ran, who leads the Rookie of the Year points race, and Kim Hyo-joo, who has had two consecutive top-fives entering this week and ranks second in scoring average.