Mar 6th, 2023
Jin Young Ko defends her HSBC Women’s World Championship title
Korean holds of challengers to claim her 14th LPGA win
Photography: Getty Images
Ko began the final round with a two-shot lead over Nelly Korda, with whom she was playing in the final group alongside Allisen Corpuz, quickly extending it with a birdie on the par-4, 1st to move to fifteen-under.
Korda rattled off back-to-back birdies on the 3rd and 4th, and the pair matched birdies on the par-5, 5th, ultimately giving Ko a one-shot advantage. After Korda faltered with a bogey on the 6th, Ko grabbed another birdie on the 8th to turn in 33 and hold a three-stroke lead, but gave a shot back on the 11th, making bogey on the most difficult hole of the week.
Ko regained her footing with a birdie on the par-5, 13th, this week’s Aon Risk Reward Challenge hole, and parred the next two before the 58-minute delay. When play resumed, Ko cleaned up her par on the 16th and ground out pars on the 17th and 18th to close out the week with a three-under, 69, finding herself in the winner’s circle for the first time in 364 days.
“It's the most important (win). Because I had a tough year last year, and I fought with injury and not good game and mentally tough and everything, and then I won this week. So it's going to be more important to me and it's going to be big momentum for me in my life,” said Ko, who shared an emotional moment with caddie David Brooker on the final green.
“I (knew) Nelly (was) behind me. I thought it was just one or two shots, so it was close. But after the delay, I rested in dining, and I saw the TV and the scoreboard, and (I had) a three-shot lead. But I had two more holes left, so, okay, let’s make par, play safe. But it was really hard to make par on 17, 18. It's a great honor to defend this title again.”
Korda fell just short of carding four consecutive 68s at the Tanjong Course on Sunday, wrapping up her week with a three-under, 69 to finish in solo second at fifteen-under overall. She made two bogeys and five birdies, including three consecutive birdies from the 3rd to the 5th, and closed her day with a final birdie on the par-4, 18th, a satisfying end to a challenging week of wet conditions and weather delays for the 24-year-old.
“Obviously, a little disappointed with today. Didn't play really well but kind of didn't really battle as much as I wanted to,” said Korda, who hit 10 of 14 fairways and 12 of 18 greens on day four. “I just made a couple kind of silly mistakes here and there. It was nice to finish with a birdie and be in contention again, be in the final group feeling the emotions and hopefully I can build off of that going into the next few events now in the States.”
Danielle Kang did her best to make a run on Sunday, firing a 4-under 68, but ultimately finished in a tie for third with Corpuz and 2022 LPGA Tour winner Ayaka Furue. Corpuz held her own in the powerhouse final group, recording a three-under 69 of her own with four birdies and one bogey on the card, and Furue leapt up the leaderboard with a final-round, 5-under 67 that saw her make seven birdies and two bogeys. Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings No. 1 Lydia Ko finished tied thirty-first at five-under overall with past champions Hyo Joo Kim (2021) and Stacy Lewis (2013) finishing tied eighth and tied thirty-ninth, respectively.