World No. 1 Ko Jin-young sets LPGA records in 13th career win

March 7, 2022

 South Korean Ko Jin-young collected her 13th career LPGA Tour victory in Singapore on Sunday, winning the HSBC Women’s World Championship while setting a pair of scoring records.

Ko, world No. 1 in women’s golf, held off countrywoman Chun In-gee and Minjee Lee of Australia by two strokes at Sentosa Golf Club’s Tanjong Course in Singapore.

Ko shot a six-under 66 in the final round to finish at 17-under 271. It was Ko’s 15th consecutive round in the 60s, a new LPGA record. Ko had shared the previous mark of 14 straight rounds in the 60s with Annika Sorenstam and Ryu So-yeon.

“I was able to break this record because I played better than I’d expected myself to play,” Ko said. “I had a chance to break this mark last year but I was nervous then and a lot of things didn’t go my way. But I had another opportunity right afterward, and I finally broke it while playing under pressure. I proved I can always take the next step.”

Ko has also gone under-par in 30 rounds in a row, another LPGA record. She had been tied with Sorenstam and Lydia Ko through Saturday in Singapore. This streak began in the final round of the Amundi Evian Championship in July last year.

By winning in her 2022 season debut on Sunday, Ko picked up right where she left off in a dominant 2021 season. Ko won a tour-high five times last season en route to capturing the Player of the Year honor and her third straight money title.

Ko has now won six times in her last 10 LPGA starts.

Ko began the final round tied for second place with fellow South Korean, Lee Jeong-eun, at 11-under. They were one off the lead held by Chun.

Ko started her round with seven straight pars, while Lee birdied four of her first eight holes to take the lead at 15-under. Atthaya Thitikul of Thailand, playing in a group ahead of the three Koreans, also made some noise with five birdies on the front nine that took her to 14-under.

Ko birdied the eighth and the ninth to keep pace with Lee and Thitikul at 13-under. Ko slipped up with a bogey at the 12th but then caught fire with four straight birdies, starting at the 13th.

Thitikul missed a short birdie attempt at the 16th that would have tied her with Lee for the lead. The Thai teen then played her way out of contention with a bogey at the 17th to fall to 14-under.

Ko pulled into a tie with Lee at 16-under at the 16th.

Lee hit a mediocre chip from off the green on that par-five hole to leave herself a lengthy birdie putt, which she missed to stay at 16-under. Ko found a bunker off the tee but still reached the green in three, before making the putt for her fourth straight birdie that got her to 16-under.

Lee and Ko both picked up pars at the 17th and headed to the final hole all knotted at 16-under.

Lee blinked there, as she pushed her tee shot well to the right. She then sent her second shot into a greenside bunker.

Lee’s bunker shot flew way past the flag and hopped off the green. She ended up with a disastrous double bogey.

In a stark contrast with Lee’s adventures, Ko calmly placed her second shot just behind the pin to set up a title-clinching birdie.

With Lee going all over the place, Ko only needed a two-putt to win the tournament, but she drained the putt to close out the victory in style.

“After the bogey at the 12th, I knew I couldn’t afford to make another mistake,” Ko said. “Then luckily, I was able to pick up birdies on the 13th, 14th, 15th and 16th. That’s when I figured I could win this tournament.”

Ko had her previous streak of 14 consecutive rounds in the 60s snapped in October last year, when she carded a 71 in the first round of the BMW Ladies Championship in the South Korean city of Busan. But Ko began a new streak immediately in the next round with a 64 and then set the new standard on Sunday.

“I think records are always made to be broken. I broke two records today but someone will break them in the future,” Ko said. “I want to keep playing as well as I can.”

This was the fourth LPGA tournament of the season but Ko’s first. She will skip the upcoming tournament in Thailand to keep fine-tuning her game for the rest of the season.

“I have a clear idea of what I need to work on,” Ko said. “I’ll return to Korea and continue to practice hard. I hope golf becomes a bit easier for me.”