Jin Young Ko was four shots back heading into the final round of the Cognizant Founders Cup in May. She would go on to win there, which is tied for the biggest comeback on the LPGA this season.
To start the final round of the CPKC Women’s Open in Canada on Sunday, Ko was 6 under, five shots behind leader Meghan Kang. Was another big come-behind win coming?
On the 18th hole, Ko missed the green left on his approach but got up-and-down for par to finish at 9 under, good for the clubhouse lead.
Moments later, Kang, who was 8 under after a bogey on No. 17, had his best shot of the week, stopping his second shot on the challenging closing hole to about five feet. There had been just four birdies all day on the 18th hole, and Kang needed to birdie the fifth to force a playoff.
Seeking her first LPGA victory in her 191st career start, Kang then calmly rolled in the putt to post a 2-over 74 and make her first career playoff.
On the first playoff hole, Ko teed off first but pulled his tee shot left. Kang streaked her down the middle of the fairway, then hit an approach similar to the one she had in regulation, her ball rolling a little longer and nestling right into the fringe. Ko’s third shot, meanwhile, found a greenside bunker and after blasting out, she faced a 40-footer for bogey but missed, ending up with a 6 on the hole.
That set the stage for Kang, who putted from the fringe to about a foot before hitting out for par to seal the deal on her first LPGA victory.
“My game has been trending and has matured in the last couple of years,” she told Golf Channel on the 18th green moments after the win. “It was just a matter of time.”
Kang, already locked into a Solheim Cup spot for the U.S. team, said she talked to other members of that team who have tasted victory for inspiration.
“I’m looking forward to finally getting the first one,” she said.
Kang is the ninth first-time winner on the LPGA in 2023.