Jin Young is the best there is on the LPGA


Jin Young Ko with the Rolex Player of the Year trophy. – AFP

THE curtain came down on the LPGA Tour season last weekend. But not before Jin Young Ko clinched the CME Group Tour Championship and the US$1.5mil winner’s cheque that goes with it.

For good measure she also secured her second Rolex Player of the Year title, edging out heavy hometown favourite Nelly Korda, whom she had to beat by coming from 10 points down at the start of the last week of the 2021 campaign.

It was a fitting end to the year’s golf for Ko who struggled earlier in the season when her grandmother was ill back home in South Korea, and she could not visit because of the pandemic restrictions.

But once the 26-year-old later accepted the passing of her grandmother and found good rhythm in her practice and out on the course, she lit up the leading women’s Tour.

Indeed, of the last nine LPGA Tour events, Ko won five of them, including the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship, which she captured last season as well.

She might have won the Vare Trophy too – for the best scoring average – but failed to complete the mandatory 70 rounds, as travel restrictions took their toll and some tournaments were called off at the last minute.

Notwithstanding this, it was another brilliant season for the Korean, who gave notice of what we might expect next year with a scintillating performance in the CME Championship. She signed off with a final day 63 to match her career-best 18-hole score to win by a single stroke.

That victory at Tiburon Golf Club in Florida secured Ko her fifth title of the season and propelled her to 12 top-10 finishes, which handed her the Leaders Top-10 Competition crown for a second time and went some way to earning her the US$100,000 bounty as well.

The Vare Trophy went to New Zealand’s Lydia Ko, who won earleir in the season for the first time in nearly three years.

Thailand’s Patty Tavatanakit was awarded the Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year title and the Rolex Annika Major Award.

She made her first win on the LPGA Tour a Major championship when she won the ANA Inspiration near the start of te season, an event that will be known as the Chevron Championship next year.

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