Feb 18, 2018: With tears of joy as her final putt found the bottom of the cup, Jin Young Ko made history.
Sunday at the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open, Ko became just the second person to ever win on the LPGA Tour in her debut as a member, and the first since 1951.
The 22-year-old is no stranger to the winner’s circle, having won on the LPGA Tour a year ago as a non-member. This week she seemed to be on autopilot at time, winning wire-to-wire.
Ko said she wasn’t nervous today thanks to a comforting text message from a friend who spurred her on during Sunday’s finale.
“I finished yesterday with a 4-stroke lead, but my friend said to me, ‘if you (have) a 10-stroke lead, you’ll have the same feeling, so don’t be nervous and just relax. Tomorrow is tomorrow.”
Ko fired a 3-under-par 69 on Sunday and won by three over fellow South Korean Hyejin Choi. She began her day with two-straight birdies and didn’t look back at any point, despite two bogeys on her front nine. She said it finally set in that she was going to win the tournament on the 17th hole.
Ko was one of nine South Koreans to win on the LPGA Tour a year ago, and is the second in a row to win in Adelaide after Ha Na Jang in 2017.
She also became the first Rolex First-Time Winner since Sung Hyun Park (2017 U.S. Women’s Open). Park and Danielle Kang (KPMG Women’s PGA Championship) were the lone first-time winners last year who were members of the LPGA Tour.
Ko is also the first wire-to-wire winner (no ties) since Lexi Thompson at the 2017 Kingsmill Championship.
“I think maybe we’ll party tonight,” Ko said with a smile.