Victorious Rookie Jin Young Ko Makes History on LPGA Tour



There’s more than one Ko making noise on the LPGA Tour.

Jin Young Ko—no relation to former world No. 1 Lydia Ko—won the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open in her first start on the LPGA Tour. The last time a rookie was victorious in her LPGA Tour debut was 67 years ago, in 1951, when Beverly Hanson won the Eastern Women’s Open.

Ko, 22, was in complete control at Kooyonga Gold Club in Adelaide. Her wire-to-wire victory featured rounds of 65, 69, 71 and 69 for a 14-under total of 274. Hyejin Choi finished second at 277.

Ko had an exquisite touch on the greens, as shown in the above video highlights of her third round. (For a demonstration of silky swing tempo, pay close attention at the :58 mark.) No doubt, Ko’s short game and unflappable demeanor helped carry her to the first of what could be several victories on the LPGA circuit.

“I focused on my game,” Ko said, “and I think my chipping and putting were keys. This course is narrow, and then there’s the green, so I’m thinking about only the greens and then try to two-putt.”

Despite her rookie status, Ko was already accustomed to competing at a high level. She bagged nine titles on the Korean LPGA and finished runner-up to Inbee Park at the 2015 Ricoh Women’s British Open. A win at the KEB Hana Bank Championship last October secured Ko’s membership on the LPGA Tour.

‘A Rocking Start’

The next stop for the women is this week’s Honda LPGA Thailand, where Amy Yang is the defending champion.

“There are 31 more tournaments before the Race to the CME Globe ends at the CME Group Tour Championship in November,” wrote Ron Sirak at “And with the scintillating win by Brittany Lincicome in the season-opening Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic followed by this impressive effort by Jin Young Ko in Australia, the year is off to a rocking start.”

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Neil Sagebiel

Neil Sagebiel is a golf writer and author of two golf books published by St. Martin's Press, THE LONGEST SHOT and DRAW IN THE DUNES. He lives in Floyd, Virginia.

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