2018 LPGA Rookie of the Year Ko Jin-young has sent a signal that she has completely adapted to the LPGA Tour.
The 23-year-old Korean clinched the coming-from-behind victory at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup at the par-72 Wildfire Golf Club at JW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge Resort & Spa in Phoenix, Arizona. Ko carded a bogey-free final round of seven-under 65 to finish at 22-under 266, beating four others who shared the second ranking by one stroke.
Ko won the LPGA Tour seed by winning the 2017 KEB Hana Bank Championship at the Sky 72 Golf Club in Incheon, before clinching her second win at the 2018 Women's Australian Open. Although she became the first rookie in 67 years to win the championship of an opening competition, she failed to win a title in the U.S. mainland.
Ko rejoiced at the latest victory that came 13 months after the second win because she came on top with an impressive performance at a championship held in honor of the founders of the LPGA Tour. Winning the dramatic victory, she said it was an "amazing day" for her.
As the championship was held at a relatively simple course, each round had many players hitting great shots, while Ko shot an even par 72 in the second round, showing a slim chance of winning the game. In the third round, however, she reduced eight shots to rekindle her hope and showed a flawless performance in the fourth with seven birdies without a bogey. Starting at the 14th, Ko reeled off three consecutive birdies, pressuring Yu Liu of China and Carlota Ciganda of Spain who were playing two groups behind.
Ciganda ended up with a par, as she sent a second shot of the 15th (par 5) into a bunker outside the green, although most high-ranking players reduced their shots. Liu, who entered the final round as a single leader with four shots ahead of Ko, failed to make a three-meter par putting into the 18th green.
Ko, the fourth South Korean to win the six LPGA Tour championships so far this year, took home 225,000 U.S. dollars for the win and jumped to second place on the money list with 472,810 dollars and Player of the Year (51 points), trailing Nelly Korda with 472,810 dollars and 56 points, respectively.