Jin Young Ko Continues Her Surge With Win at ANA Inspiration

RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. — Let totally different avid gamers take lifeless objective at titles and trophies. Jin Young Ko is discovering success by directing her focus elsewhere.

“I want to be the happiest player on the golf course,” Ko talked about.

Ko, the latest star in South Korea’s vibrant constellation, burst into tears Sunday after closing with a two-under-par 70 to win the ANA Inspiration. It was her second L.P.G.A. title in decrease than a month and her first principal championship.

Ko, who posted a 72-hole complete of 10-under 278, accomplished three strokes ahead of her compatriot Mi Hyang Lee, who carded a final-round 70. Lexi Thompson, a former champion, shot a 67 for third, 4 strokes once more.

For Ko, 23, happiness was a 15-foot birdie putt on the 72nd hole, after which she collapsed into the embrace of her caddie, David Brooker, who has guided three avid gamers to this championship.

“We are a really good team,” Ko talked about.

Ko capped her win by leaping into Poppie’s Pond with Brooker by her side.

Brooker talked about he was approached ultimate yr by an intermediary despatched to gauge his curiosity in caddying for Ko. Brooker had labored with golfers who had carried out aggressive rounds collectively along with her, so he had seen Ko’s sport up shut and was impressed collectively along with her driving accuracy and self-possession.

But he had an settlement to work for Paula Creamer, a 12-time winner worldwide, through the tip of ultimate season, her 14th as educated. At the tip of 2018, after Ko was named the L.P.G.A.’s prime rookie, Brooker made the swap.

In her first six begins with Brooker on her bag, Ko has 5 top-3 finishes, along with two victories. Her final-round scoring frequent is 66.83 strokes. It is a tossup as to who’s the preferred participant on the planet: Ko or the boys’s world No. 3, Rory McIlroy, who has seven top-9 finishes, along with one victory, in seven begins in 2019.

The 23-year-old Ko could not have requested for a further succesful Sherpa than Brooker to help her plant her determine at the very best of the ANA Inspiration chief board. He entered the week having made 16 caddie appearances since 1997 at Mission Hills Country Club and two celebratory leaps into Poppie’s Pond, with Grace Park in 2004 and Lorena Ochoa in 2008.

Brooker is conscious of the greens like his yard, which is why Ko trusted him to study plenty of her putts.

“He helps me all the time on the green or the fairways,” she talked about.

Brooker’s steering is perhaps further refined. After Ko carried out inside the afternoon Friday and signed for a 71, she talked about she wanted to spend what little daylight remained engaged on her swing. Brooker talked her out of it, explaining that the gusting wind would make any range work counterproductive.

He suggested that she spend the time instead on her main area of emphasis in the middle of the off-season: chipping and inserting.

“We are really good team,” Ko talked about.

Ko has 4 L.P.G.A. titles — and 14 over all — since she turned skilled in 2013. Before incomes her L.P.G.A. membership, Ko starred on the Korean L.P.G.A. tour. She was having fun with on her homeland circuit in 2015 when she took a three-stroke lead into the final word spherical of her first principal start, the Women’s British Open.

Ko, then 19, accomplished second to her compatriot Inbee Park.

And though that runner-up finish supplied validation that her sport stacked up correctly in opposition to the simplest, she talked about ultimate yr that she was hesitant to leap headlong to the L.P.G.A.

Before a match in Seoul ultimate October, Ko talked about she engaged in considerable “soul searching” sooner than she decided to go away dwelling to compete on the American-based tour. Unlike plenty of her countrywomen, Ko would not protect a residence inside the United States.

“She doesn’t want a base over here,” Brooker talked about.

Ko’s homing instincts remind him of Ochoa, who was the women’s world No. 1 when she retired at 28 because of she won’t bear to be aside from her family and away from her native Mexico for prolonged stretches.

“I don’t think she’s going to have one of those 20-year careers,” Brooker talked about. “I could see her playing out here five or six years and then retiring to have a family. She is not motivated by money, she’s not motivated by titles. She just wants to have fun.”

Ko can uncover the hilarity in courting disaster. On Saturday, she began the day 4 strokes off the lead, raced to a five-stroke profit after 10 holes, then gave most of it once more with a double bogey at No. 14 and a bogey at No. 15. After she used a pitching wedge to hit her tee shot into the water at the par-3 14th, Ko playfully rested her head on Brooker’s shoulder, sighed and talked about, “Oh, what have I done?”

Her third-round wobble proved instructive for Ko, who saved calm when she smelled the whiff of disaster on her once more 9 Sunday. After bogeys on the 13th and 15th holes whittled her lead over Lee to a single stroke, Ko rebounded with a birdie on the par-3 16th to current herself respiration room.

“She is just so smart for her age,” Brooker, talked about. “She knows what she’s doing out there.”

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