Jin Young Ko rolls at ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open

ADELAIDE, AUSTRALIA - FEBRUARY 18: Jin Young Ko of South Korea poses with a koala after winning the Women's Australian Open during day four of the ISPS Handa Australian Women's Open at Kooyonga Golf Club on February 18, 2018 in Adelaide, Australia. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images) Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images

Jin Young Ko rolls at ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open

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Jin Young Ko rolls at ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open

It didn’t take long for rookie Jin Young Ko to etch her name in the record books. Ko, 22, became only the second player in LPGA history to win in her debut as a tour member. The first was Beverly Hanson back in 1951.

The comfortable Ko notched a wire-to-wire victory at the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open. Her closing 69 have her a 14-under 274 total, putting her three strokes ahead of fellow South Korean Hyejin Choi. Australia’s Hannah Green (69) and Katherine Kirk (65) gave the host country a thrill by finishing a personal-best third and fourth, respectively, in their national championship. Minjee Lee (70) rounded out a trio of Aussies in the top five.

Ko played in the final group alongside Green and from the first tee on was reminded that it was a road game.

“Hannah lives (in) Australia, so many galleries say to Hannah ‘Go, go,’ ” Ko said. “I was sad a little bit, but I can focus on my game.”

While the surname Ko is certainly familiar to golf fans, Jin Young is of no relation to former No. 1 Lydia Ko. 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. Two years later she won her first LPGA event at the 2017 KEB Hana Bank Championship in South Korea. Ko, a 10-time winner on the Korean LPGA, deferred membership until 2018.

Prior to Australia, Ko had made the cut in 10 of 11 career starts on the LPGA, notching $761,227 in earnings. Her victory at Kooyonga Golf Club earned her a $195,000 paycheck and a spot in next week’s field in Thailand.

That’s now two victories in two weeks for Australian caddie Dean Herden. Last week Herden was on the bag for his old boss, Jiyai Shin, for her 50th professional victory at the ActewAGL Canberra Classic. This week Herden returned to Ko, for whom he has worked the past two years.

American rookie Emma Talley tied for seventh after a closing 69. The former U.S. Women’s Amateur and NCAA champ played in the final group Saturday but suffered shoulder pain and stumbled in with a 76. Medication helped temper the pain Sunday and she bounced back nicely. Gwk


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