Koreans dominate both PGA, LPGA for first time on same day

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Koreans dominate both PGA, LPGA for first time on same day

Im Sung-jae celebrates his victory at the Shriners Children's Open on Sunday, Oct. 10, at TPC Summerlin in Las Vegas. Im carded a 24-under-par to win by four strokes. [AP/YONHAP]

Im Sung-jae celebrates his victory at the Shriners Children's Open on Sunday, Oct. 10, at TPC Summerlin in Las Vegas. Im carded a 24-under-par to win by four strokes. [AP/YONHAP]

Ko Jin-young celebrates after winning the Cognizant Founders Cup on Sunday, Oct. 10, in West Caldwell, New Jersey. [AP/YONHAP]

Ko Jin-young celebrates after winning the Cognizant Founders Cup on Sunday, Oct. 10, in West Caldwell, New Jersey. [AP/YONHAP]

 
Two Koreans, for the first time ever, won both the PGA title and the LPGA title on the same day Sunday as PGA golfer Im Sung-jae and LPGA golfer Ko Jin-young each took home a win at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open and the Cognizant Founders Cup, respectively.
 
There have been several occasions in which Koreans won the PGA and LPGA titles on consecutive days, but never on the same day. In 2005, K. J. Choi won the Chrysler Classic on Oct. 2, and Han Hee-won won the Office Depot Championship the next day, after the final round was postponed a day due to bad weather.
 
As the new season opened up for the PGA Tour this September, the Shriners Children's Open is only the third event of the season.
 
Until the previous 2020-2021 season, Korean PGA golfers had been unable to land more than one win in a single season for over seven years since Noh Seung-Yul and Bae Sang-moon each won in 2014. In the 2018-2019 season, Kang Sung-hoon was the only Korean to win on the PGA Tour. The following season, Im was the only Korean to win when he took first place at The Honda Classic. But last season, Kim Si-woo won The American Classic in January and was followed by Lee Kyoung-hoon when he added another victory at the AT&T Byron Nelson in May.
 
Im winning early on in the new season makes for a good start, and it could prove to be the first step in making further strides for Korean golf.
 
As for the LPGA Tour, the 2021 season is nearing its end with just three events left on the schedule. 
 
This season was relatively uneventful for Korean golf, especially compared to the last few years when Koreans dominated the field. In 2019, Koreans won 15 titles out of a total 32 events. Ji Eun-hee opened up the season with a win at the Diamond Resort Tournament in January, and Kim Sei-young rounded off the season with a victory at the CME Group Tour Championship in December. Korean golfers clinched thirteen trophies before October, four of which were Ko's.
 
In 2020, when the season was shortened due to Covid-19, Korean golfers still won seven out of 18 events. Around this time last year, four trophies were already in the hands of Park Hee-young, Park In-bee, Lee Mi-rim, and Kim Sei-young, adding the fourth on Oct. 11 at the KPMG Women's PGA Championship.
 
Despite the LPGA Tour getting most of its tournaments back this season, Korean golfers only had four wins going into the Cognizant Founders Cup after an uneventful spring and summer. Ko's victory is Korea's fifth season win and her third win of the season. Korea is now just one short of a total 200 wins since Ku Ok-hee won the Standard Register Turquoise Classic on March 27, 1988.
 
Im Sung-jae hits his tee shot on the 17th hole during the final round of the Shriners Children's Open at TPC Summerlin on Oct. 10 in Las Vegas, Nevada. [AFP/YONHAP]

Im Sung-jae hits his tee shot on the 17th hole during the final round of the Shriners Children's Open at TPC Summerlin on Oct. 10 in Las Vegas, Nevada. [AFP/YONHAP]

 
Im's 100th start is second PGA victory

 
Im Sung-jae pulled off an incredible nine-under, 62, on the last round of the Shriners Children's Open to clinch a four-shot victory at TPC Summerlin in Las Vegas for his career second PGA Tour title.
 
Im started off the last round three strokes away from the lead and opened with a birdie on the par-4 first. Then Im did just what he needed to do to win, pulling off an incredible stunt of five consecutive birdies from the par-5 ninth to the par-5 13th.
 
“To be honest with you, I didn't even know I birdied five holes in a row,” Im said at a post-tournament interview.
 
“I was just constantly focused on each and every single hole to get through it without a mistake. And so it's incredible that I made five in a row.”
 
It wasn’t all fun and games for Im though, as he was disappointed with his performance on moving day when he fell out of the lead, carding a 70.  
 
“The big difference between yesterday and today was there was no wind, which made it easier,” Im said.
 
“Tee to green, driver, irons and putting game worked as I wanted to [today].”
 
Im earned his first-ever title on the PGA Tour last March at The Honda Classic, becoming the second-youngest winner of the tournament after the 1996 champion, Tiger Woods, who won at 20 years old, nine months and six days. The Honda Classic was Im’s 50th tournament since he came on the PGA Tour in 2019. This second title came along with his 100th tournament.
 
Im Sung-jae celebrates his victory in the Shriners Children's Open Sunday, Oct. 10, at TPC Summerlin in Las Vegas. Im carded a 24-under-par to win by four strokes. [AP/YONHAP]

Im Sung-jae celebrates his victory in the Shriners Children's Open Sunday, Oct. 10, at TPC Summerlin in Las Vegas. Im carded a 24-under-par to win by four strokes. [AP/YONHAP]

 
“Very meaningful win,” Im said.  
 
“I know I won my first win on my 50th start, and to win my second PGA Tour win on my 100th start, that in itself is a pretty amazing stat. I played so well, and I'm glad I got the win. It was very tough to win the first one, and I thought the second would be harder and harder. I just kept my patience and tried to keep my focus throughout the period.”  
 
Countryman Lee Kyoung-hoon finished tied for 15th while Sung Kang took a shared 27th.
 
Im’s return to great form could not have come at a better time as the Tour remains in Vegas for another week for the CJ CUP @ SUMMIT that is hosted by Im’s main sponsor CJ where he will be looking for a desert double. 
 
Ko Jin-young gets a champagne shower by other members of the tour to celebrate her win on the 18th hole in the fourth round of the LPGA tour's Cognizant Founders Cup golf tournament at the Mountain Ridge Country Club in East Caldwell, New Jersey, on Oct. 10. [EPA/YONHAP]

Ko Jin-young gets a champagne shower by other members of the tour to celebrate her win on the 18th hole in the fourth round of the LPGA tour's Cognizant Founders Cup golf tournament at the Mountain Ridge Country Club in East Caldwell, New Jersey, on Oct. 10. [EPA/YONHAP]

 
Ko claims 10th win during LPGA Tour  
 
World No. 2 Ko Jin-young won her 10th career win and third of the season in style at the Cognizant Founders Cup, routing the field for a wire-to-wire and defending her 2019 title.
 
Ko has mentioned in previous interviews that she thinks it’s easier to play on top of the leaderboards, rather than coming back from behind. This time around, Ko started off on top and came out on top. Carding an 8-under, 63, on the first day, she birdied four holes and bogeyed one on the second day. On moving day, Ko bogeyed twice but another four birdies made up for it. 
 
Despite chilly conditions and a light drizzle on the last day, Ko did not waver. Carding six birdies, Ko bogied once on the par-4 17th, but that did not affect her top seat on the leaderboard with a four-stroke lead.
 
“I didn't look at the scoreboard whole way, whole day, and I just check the scoreboard on the 18th green,” said Ko. “My caddie told me, ‘Did you notice?’ No. Yeah, I made it, and I'm so happy right now.”
 
Ko Jin-young celebrates her win on the 18th hole in the fourth round of the LPGA tour's Cognizant Founders Cup golf tournament at the Mountain Ridge Country Club in East Caldwell, New Jersey, on Oct. 10. [EPA/YONHAP]

Ko Jin-young celebrates her win on the 18th hole in the fourth round of the LPGA tour's Cognizant Founders Cup golf tournament at the Mountain Ridge Country Club in East Caldwell, New Jersey, on Oct. 10. [EPA/YONHAP]

 
Last time around in 2019, Ko played the last two rounds bogey-free to outplay four other golfers including the current No. 1 Nelly Korda of the United States by one stroke. Ko is now the first player to successfully defend a title since Korda won the 2018 and 2019 Taiwan LPGA Swinging Skirts. Ko is also the fifth wire-to-wire winner of the season.
 
“This win is my 10th career win, so this is really special,” said Ko. “Two years ago I won this tournament, and I waited since the two years from the original to here. I got a lot of the pressure on the course. I knew I'm defending champion and I knew like 60s score beat Annika's [and Ryu So-yeon’s] record and wire-to-wire, so I had a lot of pressure on the course today.”
 
Ko now joins Korda as the only two golfers with three titles this season. Earlier in the season, Ko won the Volunteers of America Classic and the Cambia Portland Classic.
 
She is also the fifth Korean golfer to reach double-digit wins in LPGA Tour history, joining Pak Se-ri who has 25 titles, Park In-bee who has 21, Kim Sei-young who has 12 and Shin Ji-yai who has 11.
 
Her victory and good form could not have come at a better time, as Ko will be jetting off to Busan with other LPGA golfers to play at the BMW Championship at LPGA International Busan that starts Oct. 21.

BY YUN SO-HYANG [yun.sohyang@joongang.co.kr]
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