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Fubon LPGA Taiwan Championship

Round 4 - Historic 10th win for Ko

October 25, 2015

The Lydia Ko legacy continued to grow this week in Taiwan as the 18-year old broke more records, set personal milestones and reclaimed the No. 1 spot in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings with her nine-stroke victory at the Fubon LPGA Taiwan Championship. Ko shot a final-round of 7-under 65 to finish well ahead of Eun-Hee Ji and Se Yeon Ryu for a 20-under par 268 total.

The win marks Ko’s 10th career LPGA Tour victory and she becomes the youngest male or female to reach 10 wins at 18 years, 6 months and 1 day old. She breaks Nancy Lopez’s LPGA record (22y/2m/5d) by nearly 3 ½ years.

Ko dedicated the win to former New Zealand Golf President Patsy Hankins who passed away earlier this week and someone Ko considers a mentor in her junior days.

“And I think I was really playing for Patsy this week,” said Ko. “I think just hearing that on Friday morning broke my heart. She was such a huge factor into my life in my junior golf. To hear that she had passed away was very hard to hear that before you’re entering a round. But kind of just played for her the last three days, and I’m so happy that I can bring this win to her and her family.”

Ko’s nine-stroke margin of victory marks the largest of her career and largest on Tour this season. She won her first major title last month by six shots at the Evian Championship.

Ko started the day with a four-shot lead over Eun-Hee Ji and looked unflappable throughout her final round of 65, which included six birdies, one bogey and an eagle. She birdied four of her first six holes to extend her lead to six and dropped her only shot on the par-3, 7th hole.

“I started the day quite good, making birdies on 2 and 3 and I then I made birdie on 5 which is a three-shot swing for me,” said Ko. “Made a double there yesterday.”

Eun-Hee Ji failed to take advantage of Ko’s birdie drought on holes 8-11 then Ko turned it on with a pitch in eagle on the par-4 12th hole to go ahead by seven. A birdie putt on No. 14 extended her lead to eight and then sealed the deal in style chipping from a tough greenside lie to a foot on the 18th for birdie.

“I hit a good tee shot. Pulled my 3-wood a little bit, but then I looked up and I told Jason, ‘I can’t even see the ball properly.’ So it wasn’t the greatest lie. And I was actually worried I was going to double-hit it, so I kind of recoiled back. But no, it ended up being good. Yeah, I don’t mind one-footers to win the event.”

Ko now leads the Tour in nearly every major statistical category including Official Money, Race to CME Globe Points, Scoring Average, Rolex Player of the Year and Top-10’s.

Add it to the list:
Ko added on more accolades to her already impressive record in the women’s game with her victory this week and wrote her name under another record category, this time youngest to 10 wins. Ko breaks Nancy Lopez’s record by nearly 3 1/2 years. Horton Smith was the youngest to 10 wins on the men’s side at 21 year, 7 months.

“I actually met her in Cleveland for an outing a couple months ago,” said Ko. “She’s such an amazing person and an amazing golfer. To have beaten her record, it’s an honor.”

LPGA Tour - Youngest to reach 10 wins:
Lydia Ko, 18 years, 6 months, and 1 day, 2015 Fubon LPGA Taiwan Championship
Nancy Lopez, 22 years, 2 months, 5 days, 1979 Sunstar Classic
Yani Tseng, 22 years, 6 months, 8 days, 2011 RICOH Women’s British Open
Marlene Hagge, 22 years, 6 months, 10 days, 1956 Denver Open

Other notables:
Horton Smith - 21 years, 7 months (men’s record)
Tiger Woods – 23 years, 6 months, 4 days
Jack Nicklaus – 24 years, 3 months, 12 days
Rory McIlroy – 25 years, 11 months, 29 days
Annika Sorenstam – 26 years, 7 months, 23 days

Conveniently consistent:
Ko shot all four rounds in the 60’s this week with rounds of 69-67-67-65. She’s previously done it three times in her career, winning two of those times. She also shot three rounds in the 60’s on two occasions at the three-round Walmart NW Arkansas Championship (2013, 2014).

Lydia Ko - All rounds in the 60s (four-round events):

Tournament
Round
Finish
2015 Fubon LPGA Taiwan Championship
69-67-67-65
Win
2015 Evian Championship
69-69-67-63
Win
2015 JTBC Founders Cup
66-69-69-69
T-6
2013 Canadian Pacific Women's Open
65-69-67-64
Win

Lost sleep for nothing:
Lydia Ko admitted to not sleeping well on her four-shot 54-hole lead on Saturday night and said that she thought her recent close calls in her past two events in Asia (T4 in Korea and T2 in Malaysia) were meant to be. But her time was clearly now this week.

“I don’t know why, but last night, I couldn’t sleep as well as the other times,” said Ko. “Normally I could just sleep well and doesn’t matter if I have a one-shot lead or two shots behind or whatever. But last night, I woke up during the middle of the night, and I’m a pretty heavy sleeper. So yeah, I was kind of surprised at that.”

Ko said she exchanged texts with coaches David Leadbetter and Sean Hogan and they encouraged her to stick to her normal game plan and to stay aggressive.

“After that, I kind of felt like, hey, you’ve just got to go with your game plan,” said Ko. “David Leadbetter and Sean texted me saying, ‘I know you have a four-shot lead, but that doesn’t mean you’re going to play it safe. Just going with your game plan and just kind of go with it.’ I think that’s what I tried to do today, and I think it worked out good. Because I was aggressive on some holes, I was able to give myself a couple more birdie opportunities.”

Ko’s impressive final round of 65 gave her a dominating nine-stroke victory and improved her record to four career wins while holding at least a share of the 54-hole lead.

Lydya Ko's record with third-round lead:

Tournament
Lead
Finish
2015 Fubon LPGA Taiwan Championship
4 Shots
Win
2015 LPGA KEB Hana Bank Championship
Share
T-4
2015 Canadian Pacific Open
Share
Win
2015 ISPS Handa Women's Australian Open
Share
Win
2015 Coates Golf Championship
1 Shot
T-2
2014 JTBC Founders Cup
1 Shot
T-2
2013 ISPS Handa Women's Australian Open
Share
3rd
2012 Canadian Women's Open
1 Shot
Win

Show me the eagles:
Five total eagles were made on the weekend at the Fubon LPGA Taiwan Championship and players raised $5,000 for the Wounded Warrior Project as part of the season-long Wounded Warrior Project® Weekends.

In all there have been 237 eagles recorded in 2015, raising $237,000.

Wounded Warrior Project® Weekends is a season-long charity program that will be tied into the Race to the CME Globe. Each Saturday and Sunday at LPGA tournaments, CME Group will donate $1,000 to Wounded Warrior Project® for each eagle that is recorded. This amount will increase to $5,000 for each eagle during the weekend of the CME Group Tour Championship and a formal check will be presented to the Wounded Warrior Project® during the trophy ceremony at the CME Group Tour Championship. To get involved and learn more, visit woundedwarriorproject.org.

Quotable:
“I think she’s nicer than me, first of all and she’s never going to give me any crap or talk behind my back.”

-Lydia Ko on whether any smack talk will start between her and Inbee Park in the back-and-forth battle for world No. 1

Round 3 - Ko takes 4-shot lead

October 24, 2015

Rolex Rankings No. 2 Lydia Ko has more records and milestones on the line after taking the 54-hole lead at the Fubon LPGA Taiwan Championship. With a third-round 5-under 67, Ko holds a four-shot lead and sits atop the leaderboard at 13-under par. First and second round leader Eun Hee Ji (72) sits in solo second while England’s Charley Hull (71) is solo third and five shots back. Ko’s round of 67 was the second lowest of the day, only outdone by Brittany Lang’s 66.

The 18-year old had an up-and-down front nine and went out in even-par and had three birdies, a bogey and a double bogey on the par-4, 5th hole. But a bogey-free back nine with five birdies pushed Ko out in front.

“I chipped in on 11 and I think that gave me some momentum,” said Ko. “I was playing good at the first couple of holes, made a double and then made a bogey. I think I kind of got a little frustrated about that. But after that chip-in, I kind of loosened up and tried to smile a little bit more. The putts started dropping.”

This week will mark the eighth time in her career that Ko has lead or co-lead heading into Sunday’s final round. Three of her nine career victories have come when sleeping on the 54-hole lead. Just last week in Korea she held a share of the lead with 18 holes to play but closed with a 72 and finished in a tie for fourth.

Ko said a four-shot cushion is better than none but doesn’t consider the job done at all just yet.

“You know, on this course, anything can happen,” said Ko. “There’s some large numbers out there. I made a double myself. I nearly made two doubles out there. But also, if you’re putting good and you’re striking the ball good, you can shoot a couple low ones, too. Especially with how packed it is up top, and you know so many top players there, it’s hard to say, hey, I’ve got the trophy today. I’ve still got to play a lot of good golf tomorrow and there’s still 18 holes to go.”

19-year old Charley Hull will be in the final group again with Ko and Eun-Hee Ji and said it simply when asked what it would take to catch her teenage counterpart.

“Keep making birdies,” said Hull.

If Ko is able to close out on Sunday, she’ll also become the youngest player in LPGA Tour history to reach 10 career victories, a record currently held by Nancy Lopez at 22 years, 2 months, 5 days. Ko will be 18 years, 6 months, and 1 days tomorrow. She would move into a tie for 47th on the all-time wins list with Paula Creamer.

Win it this time:
With a runner-up or win this week, Ko will take over the No. 1 spot in the Rolex Rankings regardless of what Inbee Park does in Korea. But Ko, who held the top spot for 19 weeks from February 2 to June 8 earlier this year said she would much rather win this week than any other scenario.

“To be able to win and become world No. 1, I think it would be just an extra bonus,” said Ko. “But I think winning will mean more to me rather than becoming world No. 1. The world No. 1 will be the added bonus.”

Ko became the youngest golfer, male or female, to reach the top rank in the world when she finished second at the COATES Golf Championship in the season-opening event in February. She said losing down the stretch to Na Yeon Choi somewhat spoiled the accomplishment.

“Yeah, came in tied second in Ocala and then became world No. 1. To me, obviously I was happy that I became world No. 1 and I was going to become world No. 1, but it did sting a little bit with the way I finished the last couple holes,” said Ko. “And it wasn’t the finish I was expecting. But you know, on that day, Na Yeon still played great.”

Ko has made it clear that winning is priority and accolades are the bonus.

“Inbee is playing great, and she’s playing consistently well week-in, week-out,” said Ko. “With the rankings, anything can change; with a couple wins by some player, they can be world No. 1. With how all that goes, I don’t know how it will end up tomorrow but I think winning this event will be the focal point of it and then to become the world No. 1 would be a great bonus.”

A nice cushion:
Ko’s four-shot lead heading into Sunday marks her largest 54-hole lead. She’s held at least a share of the third-round lead seven times in her career including four times this season but hasn’t had more than a one-shot cushion. She’s only won once with the outright lead and that came in her first victory as a 15-year-old at the 2012 Canadian Pacific Open. Just last week, Ko was tied for the lead going into Sunday in Korea but closed with a 72 to finish tied for fourth.

Lydia Ko's record with third-round lead:

Tournament
Lead
Finish
2015 LPGA KEB Hana Bank Championship
Share
T-4
2015 Canadian Pacific Open
Share
Win
2015 ISPS Handa Women's Australian Open
Share
Win
2015 Coates Golf Championship
1 Shot
T-2
2014 JTBC Founders Cup
1 Shot
T-2
2013 ISPS Handa Women's Australian Open
Share
3rd
2012 Canadian Women's Open
1 Shot
Win

Move of the day:
Brittany Lang had the top performance on moving day and tied the low round of the week, 6-under 66, to move from T58 to T14 heading into the final day. Lang had a chance at 65 but finished with a bogey on the par 4, 9th hole.

“I had a rough Thursday. I really struggled,” said Lang. “I still felt like I was playing well and I had a really good back nine coming in yesterday. I think I made like five birdies on the back nine or something. So I had a lot of good momentum. I just felt really good. I wanted to be really focused today, just pump up the intensity a little bit more. I was playing with Sandra, who I’m really good friends with, so we had a really good time.”

Lang, who started on the back nine, went out in 31 and had a string of four consecutive birdies on holes 11-14.

“Sandra (Gal) and I were just talking, having fun and I was hitting the ball so crisp, so pure, right at the flag,” said Lang. “So I was definitely in my zone. It’s so nice to get off to a start like that, especially on a course like this, because you can make a ton of birdies.”

Round 2 - Ji hold onto lead, Ko 1 behind

October 23, 2015

Eun-Hee Ji held onto her lead at the Fubon LPGA Taiwan Championship after carding a second-round 3-under 69 and sits one shot ahead of Rolex Rankings No. 2 Lydia Ko (67) and atop the leaderboard at 9-under par. The teenage duo of Charley Hull and Xi Yu Lin are tied for third at 7-under par and sit two shots back.

Ji held the first-round lead when she posted a 6-under 66 on Thursday. The 29-year old said she woke up on Friday with back stiffness that bothered her throughout the round.

“Actually I hurt my middle back today, this morning actually,” said Ji. “So this one, just bothering me on my swing, and especially with my driver. So I missed a lot of fairways today and so I just focus on my ball because my -- bothering my swing, so I don’t want to think about my swing. Keep my focus on my ball and I just be patient just like yesterday.”

The 2009 U.S. Women’s Open champ opened with two birdies on her first two holes but double bogeyed the par 5 sixth hole when she hit her tee shot out of bounds. She recovered with three-consecutive birdies on Nos. 9-11 to get to 9-under par and hung onto the lead with pars on her final seven holes.

Lydia Ko has put herself in position to make a run at her 10th career LPGA victory and also a shot to regain the world No. 1 ranking. Ko had seven birdies and two bogeys on the day.

“It was kind of a slow start,” said Ko. “I gave myself quite a few opportunities the first couple holes, and I didn’t make any. And then on the fifth hole, I holed a putt that I didn’t expect to make and then I hit a good shot into 6 and another good shot into 9. I had a couple that were like two feet, three or four of them. So that makes it a whole lot easier, and again, not reading the putt as much.”

Suzann Pettersen shot the low round of the day and matched Eun-Hee Ji’s first round of 66 to tie the low round of the week through 36 holes. The Norwegian moved from T43 to T7 and seeks her second victory of the 2015 season.

No.1 watch:
Lydia Ko and Inbee Park are making things very interesting and keeping the fight for the top spot in the Rolex Rankings very close. Ko controls her own destiny with a runner-up or win this week regardless of Park’s finish in Korea. Park is currently tied for fifth at the KLPGA’s event through two rounds.

Climbing into high company:
Lydia Ko has a shot at her 10th LPGA Tour win this week and seeing Ko in the winner’s circle has become commonplace to LPGA fans. But to put Ko’s ascension to greatness in perspective this week, only four players in the elite field in Taiwan have more career wins than Ko and have all been on Tour at least seven seasons. Ko is nearing the end of just her second year as a Tour member. With a win this week, she would move into a tie for 47th on the all-time win list with Paula Creamer and smash the age record for fastest to 10 victories by nearly 3 1/2 years, currently held by Nancy Lopez at 22 years, 2 months, 5 days.

Teenage dream:
Xi Yu Lin and Charley Hull are near the top of the leaderboard through two rounds and have a good shot at becoming the latest teenage winners on Tour. Both 19 years old and both playing for their first career victories, Lin and Hull sit just two shots off the lead. Hull is in her rookie season and Lin is in her second year. Hull said she’s in no rush to try to get a victory before her 20th birthday next March but definitely thinks her game is primed to get her into the winner’s circle. Four different players have won this year as teenagers, Hull or Lin would become the fifth this week and join Minjee Lee, Hyo Joo Kim, Lydia Ko and Brooke Henderson.

“It would be wicked if I got a win but at the end of the day, I have plenty of years ahead of me,” said Hull. “I’m in no rush. I’d like to win obviously, but I’m not going to be thinking about it too much.”

Stacked leaderboard:
Eun-Hee Ji is a major champ herself and admitted on Friday her nearly six-year winless drought is something she tries not to think about. But the South Korean native could make a statement win this week in Taiwan if she’s able to hold on to her 36-hole lead for two more rounds. Ji has a dangerous pack of pursuers and in the eight players that trail her, five are major champions and six are LPGA Tour winners.

Numbers to know:
5 – Only 5 events left on the LPGA Tour schedule including this week’s tournament in Taiwan
3 – There are 3 teenagers in the top-3 on the leaderboard: Lydia Ko - 18 years old (T2), Charley Hull - 19 years old (T3) and Xi Yu Lin – 19 years old (T3)
4 – There have been four teenage winners on Tour this year: Minjee Lee, Lydia Ko, Brooke Henderson and Hyo Joo Kim
154 – Eun-Hee Ji has made 154 starts including this week since her last victory at the 2009 U.S. Women’s Open
66 – Suzann Pettersen shot the low round of the day and matched Eun-Hee Ji’s first round score for the low round of the tournament through 36 holes

Round 1 - Ji makes best of weather to take lead in Taiwan

October 22, 2015

Eun-Hee Ji cruises to a 6-under par 66 to take the lead at the Fubon LPGA Taiwan Championship. Ji is one ahead of Xi Yu Lin in second and a group tied for third at 4-under par that includes Morgan Pressel, Sandra Gal, Charley Hull and Sun Young Yoo.

Ji had a fantastic second nine, posting a 5-under par, 31 including four straight birdies on a tough scoring day with windy conditions throughout the course.

“My putting wasn't really feeling good, so I just be patient with the winds and I just was calm with my putting. I just look at the line and just go hit it,” Ji told the media after her round. “I didn't fight with the wind. I just using the wind a lot. My ball flight wasn't too lower today. I just see my ball line and I just look at my shot, my image was really good.”

Ji was unhappy with her T-28 performance last week at the LPGA KEB Hana Bank Championship and worked on her short game this week, which paid off for her in round one.

“I just working on my short game last week and the week before, because my chipping wasn't feeling good,” said Ji. “So I was working a lot this week and I just chipped in twice today and I think I worked on a lot of right things.”

The windy conditions made it tough for some. Stacy Lewis posted her highest round of the season with a 5-over par, 77 to fall into a tie for 70th on day one. She finished runner-up in this event last year and hoped to better that this year as she searches for her first win of 2015. The world No.3 has eight top-3 finishes this year.

Let's get tougher:
The field this week can send thanks to Inbee Park for setting a tournament record here at Miramar Golf and Country Club in 2014 and maybe having an influence on the tougher set up this week. Park had a four-day total of 22-under par last year for a two-shot victory over Stacy Lewis.

Lydia Ko, who finished five shots behind Park last year and in solo third thinks the course has been set up for more of a challenge.

“I said the course wasn’t easy before, but when somebody shoots 22-under, they are going to make the course harder,” said Ko. “I know that’s what they have done this year. They have cut the rough a lot closer, so the fairways are definitely a little narrower, and because of this type of grass, when you’re in the rough, you don’t really know how the ball is going to come out.”

Ko didn’t seem discouraged with her round of 69 though and thought if a few more putts dropped, she would be even closer to the top of the leaderboard.

“You know, there’s a 66 out there today,” said Ko. “I think it’s a great score. If I made a couple more putts, I think I may have been able to shoot that score. But 66 in this breeze, I think it’s a great score that Eun-Hee shot today.”

Show up and play:
Sixth-year LPGA Tour member Alison Walshe woke up in Florida early Tuesday morning to a buzzing phone and wasn’t sure what all of her Tour friends who were playing in Taiwan were talking about when they asked her when she would arrive.

“It was like 5:30 in the morning, my phone was buzzing like crazy and it was a bunch of players being like, ‘Dude, I didn’t know you were coming; I’m excited to see you.’ I was like, ‘I don’t think I’m coming. What are you talking about?’”

A withdraw by rookie Ha Na Jang opened a spot for Walshe who saw the around-the-world trip as nothing but a good opportunity. Walshe currently ranks 83rd on the money list and 88th in the Race to the CME Globe and will have a great chance to improve her spot on both lists. After 24 hours of travel and throwing a suitcase together, Walshe arrived in Taiwan at 11:00 p.m. local time and had a 10:32am tee time on a course she’s never seen. The day got off to a bumpy start with a triple on the par 4, 10th hole but the easy-going Walshe looked for the positives in the round of 79.

“Kind of figured everything out and then went to bed and then got up this morning and had my first warm up in like -- I haven’t been playing golf,” said Walshe. “So it was a little interesting. Tripled the first hole today but got it back. I was 7-over on the front or 6-over on the front or 6-over total or something.”

“I got a really bad break on the first hole of the day,” Walshe added. “I went into the bunker and it plugged and we were just like, this is karma. So I was like, wow. I thought coming any ways, I had nothing to lose and when that happened, I was like, there’s nothing to lose. Went on and played well on the back nine and I guess that’s the benefit of a no-cut tournament, three more days.”

Preview

DATES:  October 22-25
SITE:  Miramar Golf & Country Club, Taipei, Taiwan
PRIZE MONEY: $2,000,000
Click here for tournament stats & info




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