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SEOUL, March 5 (Yonhap) — Former world No. 1 Ko Jin-young defended her LPGA title in Singapore on Sunday, picking up her 14th career win and first in 12 months.
Ko won her second consecutive HSBC Women’s World Championship on the Tanjong course at Sentosa Golf Club in Singapore, shooting a three-under 69 in the final round to finish 17-under 271 overall. Ko held off Nelly Korda of the United States by two shots.
Ko, who pocketed US$270,000 for her efforts, hadn’t won on the LPGA Tour since HSBC 2022. She battled a nagging wrist injury in the latter part of the 2022 season and went from 1st to 5th place in the world rankings in the process.
Ko showed signs of life last week in Thailand, where she recorded her first top 10 finish in seven months and then returned to the winner’s circle this weekend.
Ko is also the first LPGA winner in South Korea since Chun In-gee at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship in June last year.
Ko held a two-shot lead heading into the final round and birdied three of the front nine to open a three-shot lead.
The lead was reduced to one after Ko had his only bogey of the day on the 11th and Danielle Kang birdied on the 13th to move to 15 under.
Ko replied with her own birdie on the 13th, and Kang knocked herself out with a bogey on the 16th.
Play was suspended for about an hour due to a sudden downpour, but that didn’t dampen Ko’s home stretch as it ended with five straight pars. Overwhelmed with emotion, Ko began dabbing at her eyes as she made her way to the 18th green and cried with joy after securing her long-awaited victory.
“It’s an honor to be able to defend this title,” Ko said in a television interview afterwards. “I trained extremely hard for this title defense, and I’m glad my hard work paid off.”
Ko played in the final group with Korda, who she had traded No. 1 rankings with often in recent years. Korda is currently No. 2 and Ko is now playing catch-up.
“She’s a better player than me and I tried to learn from her today,” Ko said of the American star. “I like playing against great players, and we’ve been in the same group a few times in the past.”
Korda’s birdie on the final hole wasn’t enough as Ko extended South Korea’s winning streak to four at the HSBC event.
Park Sung-hyun won the 2019 tournament. The 2020 event was canceled due to COVID-19 and Kim Hyo-joo won it in 2021. Ko is the first player to win consecutive HSBC titles.
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