Golf: Ko Jin-young roars to LPGA Tour Championship title, Player of Year

MIAMI (AFP) – South Korea’s Ko Jin-young fired nine birdies in a sensational nine-under par 63 on Sunday (Nov 21) to win the LPGA Tour Championship and pip Nelly Korda for Player of the Year honours.

Ko’s second straight victory in the season finale was her fifth LPGA title of the year.

The US$1.5 million (S$2.04 million) winner’s prize pushed her past US$9 million in career earnings.

Ko and Korda had swapped the number one ranking all season, but it was American Korda who came into the event at Tiburon Golf Club in Naples, Florida, atop the rankings and with a 10-point lead in the Player of the Year race.

Both were among a four-way tie for the lead through 54 holes, and Korda’s tie for fifth wasn’t enough to secure the year-end award.

Japan’s Nasa Hataoka, who also shared the overnight lead, fired an eight-under par 64 to finish second on 266.

It was four strokes back to Mina Harigae and overnight co-leader Celine Boutier on 270, with Korda heading a trio on 271.

Ko opened with three birdies in her first four holes. She rolled in a 30-footer for her sixth birdie of the day at the ninth, seizing a four-shot lead.

Hataoka sliced into her lead with birdies at the seventh, ninth, 10th and 11th.

But Ko rolled in another long birdie putt at the 11th and birdied the 13th for a three-shot edge.

Hataoka kept pressing, with birdies at 15, 17 and 18, but Ko’s final birdie at the 17th was enough to clinch the victory.

Ko, 26, now has 12 LPGA titles.

Olympic gold medallist Korda, also going for a fifth LPGA win of the season, finished with four birdies and a bogey in her three-under effort that left her tied with Australian Minjee Lee and American Megan Khang.