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Rolex world No. 1 Jin Young Ko returns to the LPGA this week looking to continue her march toward sweeping all the tour’s major awards.
She will tee it up in Thursday’s start of the Buick Shanghai, the beginning of the tour’s fall Asian swing.
The LPGA will go from China to South Korea, Taiwan and Japan before taking a week off before the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship in Naples, Fla.
“I’ll try my best and show good finishes to all the golf fans,” Ko said.
Ko’s four LPGA titles this year include two major championships (the ANA Inspiration and Evian Championship). They have helped her build substantial leads in the races for the Rolex Player of the Year Award, Vare Trophy (scoring average) and money-winning title. She has already clinched the Rolex Annika Major Award for the best overall performance in the majors this season.
Ariya Jutanugarn swept all four of those awards a year ago.
Ko’s 68.851 scoring average gives her a chance to join Annika Sorenstam as the only players in LPGA history to average better than 69 strokes for an entire season. Sorenstam did it twice. She holds the all-time mark at 68.696, setting it in 2004, though she came up just short of having enough starts to be eligible to win the Vare Trophy that year. She also averaged 69.697 in 2002, winning one of her six Vare trophies.
Though Ko hasn’t played an LPGA event since the Cambia Portland Classic six weeks ago, she’s amid a busy fall schedule. She played in Korean LPGA events the last two weeks, winning a KLPGA major last weekend for her fifth worldwide title this year. Now, she’s committed to a run of three consecutive LPGA starts.
“A little tired,” Ko said when asked about her energy level coming off last weekend’s KLPGA major championship victory. “The difference in score seems to be how well you use your concentration on the course. It’s not easy, but I’ll try to manage well, both my physical and mental health, before the tournament, so I can use my concentration effectively.”
Here’s how the major award races shape up:
Rolex Player of the Year points race:
1. Jin Young Ko, 237
2. Jeongeun Lee6, 123
3. Sung Hyun Park, 117
– A victory is worth 30 points in each of the final five events this season.
Vare Trophy (scoring average):
1. Jin Young Ko, 68.851
2. Hyo Joo Kim, 69.246
3. Sung Hyun Park, 69.493
Money winning list:
1. Jin Young Ko, $2,632,412
2. Jeongeun Lee6, $1,913,357
3. Sung Hyun Park, $1,500,237