Jin Young Ko clinches LPGA Rookie of the Year award

INCHEON, SOUTH KOREA - OCTOBER 12: Jin-Young Ko of South Korea reacts after a tee shot on the 2nd hole during the second round of the LPGA KEB Hana Bank Championship at Sky 72 Golf Club on October 12, 2018 in Incheon, South Korea. (Photo by Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images) Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images

Jin Young Ko clinches LPGA Rookie of the Year award

LPGA Tour

Jin Young Ko clinches LPGA Rookie of the Year award

Jin Young Ko has clinched the 2018 Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year award, the LPGA announced Tuesday. Ko, 23, leads the race with 137 points. She is 383 points ahead of Georgia Hall, who cannot mathematically erase the gap.

Ko is the fifth consecutive South Korean-born player to win the award, dating back to Lydia Ko (no relation) in 2014.

“I feel honored to clinch the Rookie of the Year award here on the LPGA tour, which I wasn’t able to get on the KLPGA Tour,” said Ko in a statement. “I really enjoyed my first season on the LPGA and I am looking forward to having another energetic season next year.”

Ko joined the LPGA after capturing the 2017 KEB Hana Bank Championship as a non-member. In February, Ko became only the second player in LPGA history to win her debut event as a member, claiming the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open. Beverly Hanson did the same at the 1951 Eastern Open.

Ko has 11 top-10 finishes this season, including a share of second at the HUGEL-JTBC LA Open and a tie for third at the Aberdeen Standard Investments Ladies Scottish Open. She won 10 times on the Korean LPGA.

At a press conference recently in South Korea, Ko said she did a lot of soul-searching after winning the 2017 Hana Bank before joining the LPGA.

“One of the things that I kind of considered when I made that decision was that I would have to live away from home and live away from my parents,” said Ko, who noted the difficult transition of tackling this life on the road alone.

Ko, who will receive her Louise Suggs Rookie of the Year award at the 2018 Rolex LPGA Awards ceremony on Nov. 15 in Naples, Fla., ranks second in scoring at 69.6 behind Ariya Jutanugarn at 69.379. Only two players have won the coveted Vare Trophy as rookies: Nancy Lopez (1978) and In Gee Chun (2016).

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