Evian Championship 2019

Steady Ko back at No. 1

Veteran caddie Dave Brooker discussing a shot with South Korean Ko Jin-young in the final round of the Evian Championship in the French Alps town of Evian-les-Bains.
Veteran caddie Dave Brooker discussing a shot with South Korean Ko Jin-young in the final round of the Evian Championship in the French Alps town of Evian-les-Bains.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

S. Korean wins second Major and aims to find similar motivation at upcoming British Open

EVIAN (France) • South Korea's Ko Jin-young is projected to return to the top of the rankings after winning the Evian Championship, but she remains focused on her game despite the increased attention.

The 24-year-old, who also captured the ANA Inspiration earlier this season, fired a final-round 67 and a 15-under 269 total for a two-shot victory on Sunday.

"I don't know, I don't know," Ko said on the LPGA website when asked how she will handle the attention of being world No. 1 this time.

She had reached the top of the Rolex Rankings following her ANA Inspiration win, but lost it to compatriot Park Sung-hyun last month.

"I just try the same thing as this week. I will find motivation of my golf on the course. So it will be hopefully getting better."

The Evian Championship was her third title overall this year - she also won the Founders Cup in March - and she becomes the first multiple-Major winner in the same season since fellow South Korean Park In-bee in 2015.

AMAZING DISPLAY

Her management of distance control because she just does not curve the ball. It's phenomenal. I've never seen anything like it.

DAVE BROOKER, Ko Jin-young's caddie, on the South Korean golfer.

Ko's win also ends a streak of 10 successive different winners in the Majors. She had been four shots off the lead overnight but she mastered the rain and cold at the Alpine venue, carding just one bogey on Sunday.

A 20-foot birdie putt on the 17th hole gave her a two-stroke cushion going to the par-five 18th and she played it comfortably for a two-putt par that sealed the win.

Third-round leader and compatriot Kim Hyo-joo (73), China's Feng Shanshan (68) and Jennifer Kupcho (66) of the United States finished joint second on 13 under.

"I thought last night I can do it. If I play really good I can win. I never saw the other players shots or scores, so I got the win," said Ko.

She will have little time to dwell on her success, however, with the Women's British Open due to start at Woburn on Thursday.

Focus will be her weapon, along with a flawless swing and a consistency others can only dream of.

Apart from her three LPGA wins this year, Ko has also finished runner-up three times and has never been outside the top 30.

"She plays a mistake-proof game," said Hall of Fame member Judy Rankin during the Golf Channel telecast.

Ko also won rich praise from her veteran caddie Dave Brooker, who has now helped steer five Major triumphs having worked previously with Lorena Ochoa and Grace Park.

"She can win anywhere," Brooker said. "The things that impress most about her are her consistency and her ball-striking, as she showed today. She literally didn't miss a shot in 18 holes.

"Her management of distance control because she just does not curve the ball. It's phenomenal. I've never seen anything like it. Most great players. I've worked for tend to work the ball one way or the other.

"She just hits everything dead straight and it seems to pay dividends because we have a lot of looks at birdie. She's definitely up there with the greats."

Ariya Jutanugarn (68) of Thailand eagled the 18th hole to finish at 11-under 273, one stroke better than her sister Moriya (68) and Park Sung-hyun (75). On 275 were In-bee (73) and American Megan Khang (70).

Before In-bee's double Major win in 2015, she had won three in the 2013 season - the last time any LPGA golfer has done so in a single campaign.

This weekend at Woburn, away from the spotlight and distraction from her fellow competitors, Ko will be aiming to do just that.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 30, 2019, with the headline 'Steady Ko back at No. 1'. Print Edition | Subscribe