Golf Australia

Ko proves she's Korea's - and world's - No.1

Jin Young Ko

Jin Young Ko stood up in Sunday’s all-Korean shootout at the Evian Championship on her way to a second major win for 2019 and the World No.1 ranking.

The 24-year-old began the day four shots behind overnight leader Hyo Joo Kim and three back of now former World No.1 Sung Hyun Park.

But a Sunday 67 for Ko in non-stop rain - made up of five birdies against just one bogey - saw the 2018 Women’s Australian Open champ reel in her countrywomen with four holes to play on her way to a two-stroke victory.

Kim’s Sunday 73 and Park’s 75 provided the day’s drama, as Ko pushed ahead to add the Evian to her ANA Inspiration win earlier in the season.

Rookie pro Jennifer Kupcho, who claimed the inaugural Augusta National Women’s Amateur in April, quadrupled her career prize money with a bogey-free 66 that lifted her to a share of second and also secured her a 2020 LPGA Tour card.

China’s Shanshan Feng joined Park and Kupcho as a joint runner-up, Feng’s Sunday 68 also taking her to 13-under for the week.

As the final group made the turn, Kim had doubled her overnight lead to two strokes over her playing partner Park who to that point was struggling with her flatstick.

By that stage, Ko had also climbed to 13-under par and was suddenly on the leader’s radar.

Disaster struck for Park at 11 via a double-bogey before all three Koreans dropped another shot with bogeys at 12.

A birdie on the next hole for Ko cut Kim’s advantage to just one, but that buffer and Kim’s hopes of winning a second Evian Championship after she saluted on her major debut in 2014 were dashed when she made a brutal triple-bogey on the par-3 14th.

Kim’s tee shot plugged in a greenside trap and a first attempt at extricating it ended up in the ball settling in her foot marks.

She splashed her ball up onto the fringe but three putts later, Kim’s one-stroke advantage was suddenly a two-shot deficit.

That was the only invitation Ko needed and the 2018 LPGA Rookie of the Year never looked back, Ko sinking a beautiful, curling 15-footer for birdie on 17 to set up a two-stroke lead on the 18th tee that she wouldn’t surrender.

A nerve-free two putt par up the last 

Ko will return to the No.1 world ranking for a second stint having now won two of women’s golf’s four majors of the year.

Ko has now won five times on the LPGA Tour since October, 2017 and will enter this week’s final major of the year, the AIG Women’s British Open at Woburn, as a warm favourite.

The win earns Ko $US615,000 and lifts her to top spot on the tour’s season-long Race To CME Globe rankings.

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