Korean golfers look for more at LPGA's penultimate event
After a two-week hiatus, the LPGA Tour resumes on Thursday with the Pelican Women's Championship presented by Konica Minolta and Raymond James at Pelican Golf Club in Bellair, Florida as the world's top female golfers vie for the penultimate trophy of the 2021 season.
Kim Sei-young and Ko Jin-young are throwing their hats into the ring alongside 14 other Korean golfers. Kim goes into the tournament as the defending champion, having won her 12th LPGA title at the inaugural Pelican Women’s Championship last year after capturing a three-stroke victory with a total of 14-under-par, 266.
It was a second consecutive title for Kim, who had smashed her way through to a trophy in her previous event, the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship.
“Honestly, last year, when I played this tournament right after KPMG, the tournament that I won, I was very confident, felt very chill,” Kim said.
“Now is a little different, I haven’t been playing well. Last year, I was a little bit more relaxed than this year. I think that this year, I need to practice more around the green, short game and putting. I am more focused on it.”
Though Kim Sei-young has at least one victory in each of the last six seasons, she is still searching for her first title this year with just two events remaining on the schedule.
“I think every year, I set my goals higher than years before, so the biggest key is how I find success,” said Kim. “Except this year. But, hopefully another win as soon as possible.”
Ko will join Kim Sei-young on the field as the golfer with the most titles this season.
After dropping down to the No. 2 spot on the Rolex Women's World Rankings this week, losing her crown to Nelly Korda of the United States, she will be looking to take back that top seat with a third consecutive title after winning two trophies in a row at the Cognizant Founders Cup then the BMW Ladies Championship in Busan, celebrating Korea’s 200th LPGA title on home soil.
The 2021 LPGA season started this January with the Diamond Resorts Tournament, just three events later, Park In-bee won Korea’s first trophy at the Kia Classic in the last week of March. Then Kim Hyo-joo won her first LPGA title of the season at the HSBC Women’s World Championship in Singapore.
But things went quiet after that initial flurry, until Ko broke through in July at the Volunteers America Classic to win her first title of the season.
Korean golfers had an especially lackluster performance at the Tokyo Games, where all four missed out on their chance at a medal. The best finish for Team Korea was Kim Sei-young and Ko, finishing tied for ninth with 10-under-par, 274. Kim Hyo-joo finished tied for 15th with nine-under-par, 275, and Park finished tied for 23rd with five-under-par, 279.
However, after a three-month hiatus, Ko took a much-needed title at the Cambia Portland Classic in September. Then she just kept on going, winning two consecutive titles, the Cognizant Founders Cup and the most recent BMW Ladies Championship.
Kim Hyo-joo and Park will be sitting out this tournament. Park finished her season early at the BMW Championship.
BY YUN SO-HYANG [firstname.lastname@example.org]