World's Best, Jin Young Ko, Eyeing Sunday Charge
World No. 1 Jin Young Ko has shot two consecutive 69s at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, is within four shots of Leona Maguire’s lead and says that Baltusrol continues to leave her wildly perplexed.
“Still, I don’t know this golf course,” Ko joked after Saturday’s third round.
Think about the damage she’d be doing if only she was a little more comfortable.
Ko, 27, bogeyed three of her first four holes and jumped to 2-over total and eight shots off the lead at that point. The best player in the women’s game – with two major championships and 15 LPGA wins, including two this year – was essentially an afterthought. She had lingered around contention for the previous two days and, all of a sudden, found herself outside the top 30.
Then came birdies at Nos. 5 and 7. She was back to even par for the Championship.
Five holes later Ko started a run of four consecutive birdies from Nos. 12-15 via two long putts and two close putts stemming from laser approach shots. The stretch pulled her within two shots of the lead. She bogeyed the 16th hole and three-putted the par-5 18th hole for par to shoot 69.
Maguire birdied her last hole of the day and leads Jenny Shin by one shot and fellow Irishwoman Stephanie Meadow by two. Ko is tied for sixth place and has inexplicably recorded six three putts in her last 29 holes despite insisting that she’s putted well all week.
“I missed some fairways today,” said Ko, who missed five of 14 fairways. “So it's going to be challenging for me because this golf course if you miss the fairway, it's going to be hard to focus for next hole from tee shot.
“So, yeah, I need to more focus my tee shot and second shot.”
Ko wishes she was closer to the lead, of course, but is also thrilled that she’s not farther behind.
It was brought to her attention late Saturday that there isn’t a lot of major championship winning experience on the leaderboard around her. Maguire won last week on the LPGA and has three top-10 finishes in majors. Shin has only won once on the LPGA, back in 2016. Meadow hasn’t won in 139 previous LPGA starts.
Ko’s two major championship victories came back in 2019 at the Chevron Championship and the Evian Championship. Yuka Saso, who won the 2021 U.S. Women’s Open, is the only other major winner in the top 17.
Ko was asked if she cared to provide any advice to all those looking for their first majors?
“That's secret,” she quipped. “I don't want to tell anybody.”