Jin Young Ko WDs in South Korea, opens door for new LPGA No. 1
While Rory McIlroy is trying to reclaim the world No. 1 spot in the men’s game, the top spot in the ladies’ game is also up for grabs this week.
Jin Young Ko’s hold on the No. 1 spot in the Rolex Rankings is now in even more jeopardy after she withdrew before the third round of the LPGA’s BMW Ladies Championship in her native South Korea. Ko was making her first start since the CP Women’s Open in late August due to a wrist injury.
Her return to competition was far from her usual play. She opened with a one-under-35 on the front nine of the first round at Oak Valley Country Club but made four straight bogeys to start the back nine before finishing with a disastrous 10 on the par-5 18th. She signed for an 80, two strokes higher than any score she’d recorded previously on the LPGA Tour since joining in 2017.
Her second round was only one stroke better and the start left her in last place through 36-holes at the event she won a year ago.
Her win in Korea last year allowed her to reclaim the world No. 1 spot from Nelly Korda, but she hasn’t won on the LPGA Tour since March.
Ko seemed to indicate earlier in the week she was hoping a focus on her play would help take care of the ranking.
“I would be lying if I said that there was absolutely no pressure when it comes to maintaining that ranking,” she said Tuesday. “But I have to say I am more interested right now in practicing because I want to be more satisfied with my golf instead of the title, the No. 1 player itself.”
She admitted her wrist was not fully healed, but that she didn’t think it would impact her game.
“I don’t know how to explain what my wrist is like at the moment,” she said. “It’s not fully okay but I’m not in a lot of pain. It’s really difficult to explain the state of my wrist. But I have to say it’s not at its worst and I don’t think it’s impacting my game that much and if I don’t do well, I don’t think I can blame it on my wrist. I’m just going to do my best out there.”
Now rookie sensation Atthaya Thitikul has a chance to dethrone Ko for the top spot in the rankings. She only needs a solo fourth or better this week to overtake Ko and holds a one-stroke lead heading into the final round as she looks for her third win of the season.
“To be honest, I don’t really care about the ranking,” the 19-year-old said after the third round. “I don’t really care to be like No. 1 in the world at all because I play golf because I want to take care of my family. I want to feed my family. Whatever I am is fine. Even my family, they have a good life already. Ranking is not that important for me for real.”
Ko did say she planned on playing the final two events of the season on the LPGA Tour in Florida. She is the defending champion as well at the CME Group Tour Championship.