AUTHOR

OBGOLF

03 April 2020

JIN YOUNG KO

Over the past two years, Korea’s Jin Young Ko made a big leap forward culminating in her claiming the top spot in the women’s world golf rankings. She sat on the throne for the first time from April 8 to June 30 last year and then reclaimed the No 1 ranking from July 29. The 24-yearold is the new queen of the LPGA, entering the winners ’circle last year with four wins, including two majors, an achievement that no other player was able to match during the season.

Since joining the tour, Ko has secured a total of six LPGA Tour wins in less than two years and has also recorded eight top-10 finishes, three of which were runner-up spots, and didn’t miss a cut in 20 starts. By the end of the 2019 season, she had bagged herself numerous awards including the LPGA Player of the Year.

The Korean stars accomplishments even exceeded her own expectations, “My goal was always to finish in the top 20 [for the 2019 season], so that’s pretty good now.” Let’s take a closer look at the story of this Asian superstar: 

When did Ko start to play golf?

Ko started playing golf at the age of 7. She has admitted that her parents had the biggest influence on her career.

At what was age did she turn professional?

She became a professional at 18. 

Before competing on the LPGA Tour, how was Ko's professional career?

Known as one of the top amateurs in South Korea, Ko, who turned pro in 2013, played on the developmental Jump Tour for the rest of the year. She achieved three wins and nine top tens. She finished 4th at KLPGA Q-School to qualify for the KLPGA tour in 2014. She claimed 10 titles on the KLPGA Tour over the period 2014 to 2017, including the Nefs Masterpiece in August 2014 as her first professional victory and the 2017 LPGA KEB Hana Bank Championship that earned her an LPGA tour card for 2018.

During her first year on the LPGA Tour, Ko set a record. What was it?

Ko became only the second woman in history to win her first-ever event on the LPGA Tour. She won the 2018 Australian Women's Open, pushing KLPGA star Hye Jin Choi down to second place in the final round. 

By the end of the 2018 season, Ko claimed the LPGA Rookie of the Year award. What achievements contributed to her winning that accolade?

Ko only won one tournament in 2018 (the Australian Women's Open). However, she managed 13 Top-10 finishes, the most by a Korean on tour that season, including a tie for 2nd at the Hugel-JTBC LA Open, a tie for 3rd at the Scottish Open, and a solo 4th at the Indy Tech Championship.

For one a half years Ko has been working with a sport psychologist in Korea, what’s been the impact of that?

Before working with a sport psychologist, Ko had struggled with being a perfectionist when she practiced. Her psychologist has helped her to face the reality that mistakes will happen. "I'm not a robot. I'm human," Ko said, as quoted by Golf Digest. Her mental coach also encourages her to prioritize happiness, on the course and off. "Happiness is really important to my life, so I ... always try for happiness," Ko said. "Like personal life, on the course, or outside golf." These two physiological developments have helped her to overcome the pressure of the competitive arena. 

Ko is believed to have broken a Tiger Woods record. What is that?

Ko records 114 straight holes without a bogey in 2019. This record is claimed to be the longest ever managed in professional golf, beating a 110-hole streak by Tiger Woods in 2000. 

By the end of the 2019 season, Ko had engraved plenty of achievements. What were they?

Ko clinched the LPGA Player of the Year award, the Vare Trophy (for the lowest scoring average for the season), and the LPGA money-winning title. Ko is the fourth player to claim those awards while also holding the Rolex world No. 1 ranking. she follows in the footsteps of Lorena Ochoa, Yani Tseng, and Ariya Jutanugarn. Speaking after her incredible season, Ko said: “I want to say that this is not the end but only the beginning. I will work even harder to become a better golfer.” 

Ko has been getting her putting advice in a somewhat unusual way for years. How?

Ko has been learning from Brad Faxon, an American professional golfer who has shared a lot of his knowledge on YouTube. Ko started studying the 58- year-old PGA Tour veteran on YouTube. “Like, for 15 years, 15 years until I was 19, I watched every day on YouTube, things like his videos. So my putting was really good at 18 years old,” said Ko. Faxon’s putting tips have certainly helped Ko in her rise to the top.

What does LPGA veteran Christina Kim think about Ko?

Kim described Ko as a combination of Annika Sorenstam, the former World No. 1 of Sweden, and Inbee Park, the former World No. 1 of Korea, which is to say a ball-striking machine who seemingly never misses a putt. “She is the most consistent player I have ever seen,” added Kim. “She makes the extraordinary look really simple. You’ll be paired with her and think to yourself, What’s the big deal, she’s only playing okay, except then you realize she’s, like, 7-under through 11 holes.”

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