Jin Young Ko wins LPGA South Korea, set to move to No 1

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Jin Young Ko of South Korea displays the trophy after winning the final round of the BMW Ladies Championship at LPGA International Busan in Busan, South Korea, Sunday, Oct. 24, 2021. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

BUSAN – Jin Young Ko birdied her first playoff hole with fellow South Korean player Hee Jeong Lim to win the BMW Ladies Championship on Sunday.

The LPGA Tour said Ko is projected to become world No. 1 with the win, overtaking American Nelly Korda.

Ko was No. 1-ranked from July 20, 2019, to June 27, 2021, a streak of 100 consecutive weeks, and was also world No. 1 for 12 weeks in early 2019. It was Ko's 11th career LPGA win.

“I wasn’t too conscious, actually, of the ranking," Ko said. “I always feel if your game is in good form and you keep at it, you can reach that ranking . . . I felt if I kept at it and worked hard this year I might have a chance within this year."

Lim led by four strokes going into the final round, but Ko's 8-under 64 moved her to 22-under 266, level with Lim after her final-round 68.

It was Ko's first playoff in an LPGA tournament.

“I wasn’t that nervous going into the playoff. I think I was feeding off the confidence I had during the round,” she said. “When I was heading to the tee, I turned to Dave (caddie Dave Brooker) and I told him that this was my first playoff ever, and he smiled, and he said, ‘Welcome.’ And that helped me ease those nerves.”

Four players were tied for third, four strokes behind, including South Korean-born New Zealander Lydia Ko after a 64.

Going into the tournament, Jin Young Ko had 14 straight rounds in the 60s, tying her with Annika Sorenstam (2005) and So Yeon Ryu (2015-17) for the most in tour history.

But Ko finished with a 1-under 71 on Thursday to end the streak. She's now started a new one, shooting 64-67-64 to finish the tournament.

Ko won her third tournament of the season at the Cognizant Founders Cup in New Jersey, her third win in her past six starts, a stretch that included a runner-up finish and a sixth-place finish.

The LPGA started out with a four-tournament Asia swing until events in Shanghai, Japan, and Taiwan were either canceled or removed from the schedule due to COVID-19 travel restrictions. That left Busan as a one-off event on the schedule, and many of the top North American players decided not to play.


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