Jin Young Ko wins biggest check in LPGA history with preposterous greens streak

Jin-Young Ko and Nelly Korda on Sunday.

Jin-Young Ko and Nelly Korda on Sunday at the CME.

Getty Images

Jin Young Ko entered the final round at the CME Group Tour Championship holding a share of the lead. She shot a bogey-free final-round 63. And she needed every single one of those strokes to win.

Ko’s four-round total of 23-under 265 proved to be just enough to hold off hard-charging Nasa Hataoka, who birdied three of her last four holes to post 22 under.

But Ko’s ballstriking was relentless. Not just week-in, week-out, very-good-at-golf relentless — this was next level. Ko wrapped up Sunday’s round by hitting all 18 greens in regulation. Saturday, she hit all 18 greens in regulation. Friday, she hit all 18 greens in regulation. In total, she hit a preposterous 63 greens in regulation to finish the week. There is no known comparable streak in professional golf.

Ko was well compensated for her efforts. With the win, became the Race to the CME Globe Champion, going back-to-back and earning the largest check in LPGA history: $1.5 million.

With the win she also became Rolex Player of the Year by a narrow margin over Nelly Korda, finishing with 211 points to Korda’s 197.

Entering Sunday, there was a traffic jam at the top of the leaderboard: Ko, Korda, Hataoka and Celine Boutier shared the lead at 14 under. But Ko quickly separated herself with three birdies in the first four holes. Then she kept it going with three more birdies to go out in six-under 30. She played flawlessly coming home, too, getting to eight under through 13 holes and setting up a two-putt birdie at No. 17 to essentially seal the deal.

Korda also began the day tied for the lead and she finished off her eighth consecutive round in the 60s — but it wasn’t enough to keep pace with the low scores on course, as a three-under 69 left Korda T5.

Ko embraced Korda on the 18th green as the two were showered with champagne from a group of fellow competitors. The win marked Ko’s 12th on the LPGA and her fifth in nine starts. With the win she also climbed back to World No. 1.

Impressive stuff for a week’s work.

Dylan Dethier

Dylan Dethier

Golf.com Editor

Dylan Dethier is a senior writer for GOLF Magazine/GOLF.com. The Williamstown, Mass. native joined GOLF in 2017 after two years scuffling on the mini-tours. Dethier is a 2014 graduate of Williams College, where he majored in English, and he’s the author of 18 in America, which details the year he spent as an 18-year-old living from his car and playing a round of golf in every state.