What’s the secret behind Jin Young Ko’s epic run? I asked someone who may have a clue.

Jin Young Ko hits her tee shot on Sunday on the 5th hole at Sentosa Golf Club.

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The numbers were numbing. So I asked someone in the know for a hand. 

“Golf question(s) for you!” I texted Gemma Dryburgh on Sunday afternoon. “We talked a little over the call about Jin Young Ko and your round with her in Portland. Given her win today and the run she’s on, I’d LOVE to know the pro’s first-hand perspective. 

“What did you see from her that day? How’s she doing it? How improbable is it? Did you learn anything from her? So … a lot of questions, I guess. Would you have some time to answer?”

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Dryburgh, as you may remember, is my new drinking buddy, though first on her resume is the fact that she’s one of the best players in the world. A few weeks ago, we connected over Zoom after I pitched a hopped-up hoppy idea — since the LPGA Tour pro is backed by the St. Andrews Brewing Company, I asked if she would be willing to talk golf and beer, over beers. And about halfway through our call and our suds, we talked Ko. 

Of course we did. Before our call, Ko had — deeeeep breath — won five of her past nine tournaments, moved to world No. 1, was in the middle of a ridiculous streak of 63-straight greens in regulation and had shot 11-straight rounds in the 60s, and 26-consecutive rounds under par. But what had made me wondering even more was that back at the Portland Classic in July of last year, when Ko was trying to win for just the second time in three events, one of her final-round, final-grouping playing partners was, yes, Dryburgh. 

And so when Ko won again on Sunday, at the HSBC Women’s World Championship, behind four more rounds in the 60s, all under par, I grabbed my phone. 

“Hey Nick, I’m not surprised she has won again that’s for sure,” Dryburgh texted back. “She just doesn’t make any mistakes. If she misses a shot (which isn’t very often) she misses in the right place so her birdies really stick as she is rarely making bogies. I’m pretty sure she went bogey free when I played with her in that last round. Not sure if you are able to double check that or not. [Editor note: I did, and Dryburgh was right — no bogeys, three birdies and a four-shot win.] 

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“But that’s the biggest thing for me that I learnt from her I’d say. She just manages her game really well, I’m sure her caddie has a big part to play in that as well. I’d also just add on top of missing in the right places every part of her game is obviously very very good so it’s a fantastic combination. Clearly why she just keeps winning.”

“How hard is it to miss in the right place compared with going for broke?” I texted back.

“Missing in the right places is mainly a mind set I’d say,” Dryburgh wrote. “You first have to take any big misses out of your game which is the technical part but after that if you can manage your game well to go at pins when you should and go for the middle of the greens when you have more of a difficult shot in is the perfect way to manage your game in my opinion. It does take some will power to not go at pins all of the time, but if you can pick the right time it can really pay off. Something I’m working on at the moment.”

“Did she [Ko] talk to you at all, or did you talk to her? Did she do anything interesting that popped out at you?” I texted. 

“We did have some chat when we played but I have to admit it wasn’t too much as we were both very focused on the round with it being the final day,” Dryburgh wrote. “She was lovely though, always complimented any good shots.”

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At this point, knowing that it was getting later in her native Scotland, where Dryburgh is living until she returns to the Tour at the JTBC Classic at the end of the month, I texted just once more. It was an easy question for me to thumb into my phone, but one that maybe could have been responded to any number of ways.  

“As a pro would you have thought what she is doing is possible?”

“What she’s doing right now is unbelievable,” Dryburgh wrote. “I’m not sure the exact run she’s on right now but it seems like everything she plays in she wins or is top 10 which is so impressive. We all know how hard golf is and she is making it look easy. It’s great to see. 

“I could learn a lot from watching her as we hit it a similar distance so it just shows you, you don’t need to smash it long distances to perform so well.”

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Nick Piastowski

Nick Piastowski

Golf.com Editor

Nick Piastowski is a Senior Editor at Golf.com and Golf Magazine. In his role, he is responsible for editing, writing and developing stories across the golf space. And when he’s not writing about ways to hit the golf ball farther and straighter, the Milwaukee native is probably playing the game, hitting the ball left, right and short, and drinking a cold beer to wash away his score. You can reach out to him about any of these topics — his stories, his game or his beers — at nick.piastowski@golf.com.