Wednesday, 26 September, 2018

South Korea's Jin Young Ko wins Australian Open

Shannon Reynolds | 20 March, 2018, 07:20

Not many people had heard of Ko in Australia prior to her arrival at Kooyonga Golf Club - but they certainly have now, after she enjoyed a dominant wire-to-wire victory.

Kirk peeled off four consecutive birdies from the third hole in an "unexpected" hot streak. This Ko burst onto the worldwide stage at the 2015 Ricoh Women's British Open at Turnberry, when she gave champion Inbee Park a run while wearing a puffy fur-lined jacket.

I hadn't really seen her play since Royal Melbourne so the final round at Kooyonga was something of an update on her progress and it's fair to say she put on a more than impressive performance, playing to a noticeably higher level from Royal Melbourne. Ko, 22, became only the second player in LPGA history to win in her debut as a tour member.

Three years ago at the Interstate Series teams matches at Royal Melbourne I watched Hannah Green play and she was a very nice player. Last October she captured the LPGA KEB Hana Bank Championship title and earned a ticket to the lucrative USA women's tour.

To her credit she hit great irons into the 10th and 11th for easy birdies and the retention of some hope she could win if Ko faltered.

She finished at 3-under par for the week and tied for 19th.

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A three-shot lead with one hole to play was unlikely to escape the grasp of Ko whose 14 wins as a professional to date in events in Korea have steeled her for such moments. "My goal was to get into every major, and I know that's quite hard, being a rookie this year, so hopefully I've made enough money and keep making money to make sure that I'm definitely in". "This course is narrow, and then there's the green, so I'm thinking about only the greens and then try to two putt". "All around, it's been a good week", said Green.

Ko is already a 10-times victor on the Korean LPGA.

"To be honest, I didn't expect to have a chance today being - what was I - 9 behind", said Kirk.

"It was a little bit unexpected but at the same time, I didn't make anything the first three days so I guess maybe I was due to make some today", Kirk said. The first was Beverly Hanson back in 1951. She then pulled away with birdies at the 13th and 17th in what seemed a nerveless finish, showing the experience gained as a 10-time victor on the Korean LPGA Tour.

Na finished the tournament at three-under while Australia's top-ranked golfer, world No.17 Minjee Lee, ended at eight-under in a tie for fifth with American Marina Alex.

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