Naples, Florida-The stakes are high. Everyone except Jin Young Ko thinks the odds are high.
Her only chance for the LPGA Player of the Year is to win the CME Team Tour Championship. The world’s number one player Nelly Korda does it her way. If this is not enough, Ko’s left wrist is already dying, and she can only swing with a notched wedge on the practice court.
Then she provided a near-perfect performance.
Ko birdied every hole (she did not miss the regular green on Tiburon’s last 63 holes), shot 30 on the first nine holes to seize control, and shot under par in the low round of the tournament 63 shots of 9 shots. One stroke victory on Sunday.
For the victor, these are serious trophies.
Ko won the highest prize for women’s golf with $1.5 million and surpassed Korda as the biggest LPGA Player of the Year award.
“I can’t believe [it],” Ko said of winning the game again.
Ko opened the game with a 25-foot birdie putt, which looked as simple as a tap, and she was on the road. She hit a 7-iron on the 3rd hole, an 8-foot birdie, and a 10-foot wedge on the next hole, not close to bogey.
She eventually defeated Japan’s Hataoka Usa by one shot. The latter never exceeded two shots in the last nine holes until he birdied the last hole and shot 64.
When she won the crystal trophy for winning the championship and the silver trophy for Player of the Year on the 18th green, she couldn’t stop smiling. This victory is worth 1.5 million U.S. dollars. This award is more valuable to her.
“I am proud of myself,” Ko said. “Player of the year, which is cool. I want to say that the player of the year is the best. It’s really hard to get the player of the year, especially this year with Nelly.”
Kerr Da’s important year as a Grand Slam champion, Olympic gold medalist and world number one ended with a sensation. The 23-year-old American couldn’t keep up with the rhythm from the start, and when Ko pulled the distance on the back nine holes, he was never a serious factor.
“This is today’s Jin Young Ko show, and to be honest, it’s cool to see it,” Korda said. “I just sat down and watched all day.”
Korda’s four victories this year include the Women’s PGA Championship, which ended with 69, tied for fifth and 6 shots behind.
“I feel a little bit sad for Nelly,” Ke said. “But I’m a little luckier than her.”
A little determination helps. Ko won the season finale for the second year in a row, which cost her everything.
At the beginning of the final round, she tied for the lead with Korda, Hataoka and Celine Boutier, and caught four birdies in the opening six holes and quickly left everyone behind.
Hataoka tried to leave early with her with a pair of birdies, but her chance was ruined on the par 5 on the 6th hole. Ko hit a beautiful fairway about 15 yards above the green and shot the birdie into the range. Hataoka happened to be on the green and threw a delicate course into the bunker, causing a bogey.
But she was the only one who challenged Ke. Hataoka won $480,000 as the runner-up. As the runner-up of the U.S. Women’s Open, she won a prize of $594,000.
Ko injured her left wrist for the first time in May due to excessive practice. She continued to play and the situation got worse. She said earlier this week that she might quit if it were not for the last competition this year.
This makes the performance even better. She never seemed to miss it.
On Thursday, Gao’s tee shot on the ninth hole entered the bunker near her lips. She could only rush to the fairway, resulting in a bogey. That was the last time she missed the green in Tiburon.
This is a ruthless performance. She chose a goal. She hit the ball. Then she let a pure putt hit the ball to take care of the rest.
Lydia Ko finally shot 64 and ended the Vare Trophy with the lowest average score. Jin Young Ko and Korda have low averages, but they do not meet the minimum requirement of 70 rounds.
The Korean star won his 12th career victory with a score of 265, 23 under par. The LPGA Hall of Fame is her ultimate goal, requiring 27 points. She won one point and earned one point for Player of the Year. In just four years on the LPGA Tour, she scored 17 points.
For Ko, it was the end of a glorious year. She injured her wrist and had to deal with the issue of losing her grandmother in the spring, which made her look for motivation briefly.
She found it to a large extent. In the past 9 LPGA tournaments, Ko has won 5 championships and became the first LPGA champion to win five championships since 2016.