‘This is probably the best I’ve played’: Lydia Ko dominates in Korea for her 18th LPGA title
If there was any doubt before, there shouldn’t be now — Lydia Ko is officially back.
Ko, a former world No. 1 and teenage sensation, claimed her second victory of 2022 early Sunday morning as she ran away from the field in Korea for a four-shot victory at the BMW Ladies Championship. After going five years with just one victory between 2016 and 2021, the 25-year-old has now won three times over the past 18 months. The win also moves her into a tie for 30th on the LPGA all-time wins list.
“I think this is probably the best I’ve played,” Ko said. “I think when I was No. 1, I had just more wins in that season. [But] I don’t think I’ve had as many top tens and top ten percentage.”
Ko now has 13 top 10s in 20 starts this season.
“At all of these championships, the score for the cut is getting lower, the score to win is getting lower,” she said. “I think just the level of play and the level of women’s golf right now is so high that it’s just really, really difficult to win.”
Ko began entered the day one shot behind No. 2-ranked Atthaya Thitikul, who opened the tournament with rounds of 63, 71 and 67 to set the pace at 15 under. However, Ko surged ahead by three as the two turned for the back nine, posting an outward 34 as Thitkul stumbled with 38.
The story was much the same on the back nine as Ko carded five birdies on the home stretch including three in a row on Nos. 15-17 to ice the tournament. After she cleaned up for par on the finishing hole, she was doused in champagne by close friend and fellow competitor Danielle Kang.
“Actually, I teared up right after I dropped the putt on the 18th hole,” Ko said. “It was very meaningful.”
In addition to earning her 18th LPGA title, the win had extra meaning for Ko as it was her first victory in her native country. Although Ko competes under the New Zealand flag, she was born in Seoul and had much of her family on hand to witness her accomplishment.
“I feel so proud to be born in Korea,” she said. “I think because of that I really wanted to win here. It’s not only just a place that I’m born, but a lot of my family is still here. This week my relatives are here, my direct family is here. And I wanted to win it for them as well. To be able to do that this year in front of a lot of them, it means a lot.”
With the win, Ko becomes the fifth player to register multiple LPGA wins this season, joining Thitikul, Brooke Henderson, Minjee Lee and Jennifer Kupcho. Her multi-win campaign also has her in the driver’s seat for the Player of the Year race as she now sits atop the standings by a single point with three events remaining.
“I think this is probably one of my best seasons or the best seasons I’ve had,” Ko said. “To be able to win this one it means a lot, and I think it gives me good motivation for my last couple of events in Florida.”