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Ko Jin-young is the First Major Champion of 2019

By: | Mon 08 Apr 2019 | Comments

Last year's LPGA Tour Rookie of the Year, Ko Jin-young is now a major champion after completing a three-shot victory in the ANA Inspiration at Mission Hills in California. The 23-year-old finished at 10-under for the week, ahead of compatriot Lee Mi-hyang who was back on seven-under, with former winner Lexi Thompson in third place following a Sunday round of 67 on the Dinah Shore Tournament Course that catapulted the American into the upper echelons of the leaderboard. 

However, it was Ko's day, who began the final round one shot ahead of 2017 Women's British Open champion In-Kyung Kim. Despite a wobble on the back-nine with bogeys on the 13th and 15th, the destiny of this event always seemed to be in the hands of Ko, who birdied the 16th and 18th to fulfil an emotional dream at this iconic tournament, one that she had coveted the most, celebrating with the traditional leap into Poppie's Pond.

“I always think about when I can go in that pond,” she reflected. “That's today.”

“I had a great round and a great week. I felt nervous today but I just tried to keep myself calm. My caddie told me on the 18th that I had a two-shot lead and to not worry, just enjoy it.”

She certainly did, and two decades on from the trailblazing exploits of Se-ri Pak, Ko is the 15th LPGA major champion from South Korea. Joining that illustrious group of players was deeply meaningful to the young woman from Seoul. 

“I won the tournament and that's a happy moment. I thank God, I thank my parents, I thank my grandparents. It is an honour for me to join so many great Korean players.”

Despite only emerging on the American circuit - to great success - during the past 18 months or so, Ko was a prolific winner on the Korea Tour, and did finish runner-up in the 2015 Women's British Open at Turnberry, behind the legendary Inbee Park, underlining that this triumph had been on the cards for a considerable time.

Spain's Carlota Ciganda shot a 68 - her best of the week - to finish in a tie for fourth alongside Kim, a performance that will delight Europe's Solheim Cup captain Catriona Matthew, while a group of Americans, Kristen Gillman, Jessica Korda, Ally McDonald and Danielle Kang were among those packed inside the top ten. England's Charley Hull sat in a tie for 12th, while Georgia Hall was way down the field in 61st. Defending champion Pernilla Lindberg and the returning Michelle Wie missed the weekend, as did the revered figures of Juli Inskter and Karrie Webb, who failed to make the cut.

But in Ko-Jin young, South Korea has unearthed yet another superstar, a major champion, an inspiration.

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Tags: lpga ANA Inspiration

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