She had a brilliant rookie year on the KLPGA. Now
sponsored by Nefs, she pushed fellow teens Kyu Jung Baek and Min
Sun Kim in one of the best rookie battles in KLPGA history. Despite
two early wins by Baek, Ko hung with her, even topping her in the
early summer. She then won the Nefs Masterpiece for her first career
win (and at her sponsor's tournament to boot!). Even after Baek
won the KLPGA Championship for her third win of the year, Ko's consistency
allowed her to stay ahead in the rookie race.
After Baek won the KEB Hana Bank, she and Ko were
EXACTLY TIED at the top of the rookie race, with Min Sun Kim not
far behind. It was at this point that Baek finally crept into the
lead, but it wasn't until the final event of the year that she decisively
put her two rivals away. Ko finished second in the rookie race,
but her total would have won almost any other year.
In the end, Ko accumulated 14 top tens and one win,
earning 458 million won for the season. She finished 8th on the
money list for 2014.
Ko had an even better year in 2015, marking herself
as a future star of the sport. On the Korean tour, she won three
tournaments and finished fifth on the money list with over 533 million
won earned. In addition, she had five other top tens, including
a runner-up finish to In Gee Chun at the rain-shortened Samchully
Together Open. Ko's great play qualified her for the Kowa Queens
and ING Champions team events.
But undoubtedly the highlight of her year came at
the Ricoh Women's British Open. Playing in her first ever Major,
paired with a local on her bag, she stunned the field by taking
the 54 hole lead. She played brilliantly on the front nine on Sunday,
making an eagle and seemingly setting herself up for the win. But
LPGA superstar Inbee Park rallied on the back nine, making an eagle
herself to put the pressure on. After Park made an amazing birdie
on the 16th hole, Ko reached that hole and dumped her approach into
the water, making double bogey. Park went on to win, with a crushed
Ko finishing second. Still an amazing performance, however!
In the offseason, Ko acquired famous caddie-to-the-stars
Dean Herden to be on her bag for 2016. She was hoping to become
the top star on the KLPGA and perhaps move to the LPGA by year's
Her 2016 season on the KLPGA was her best yet, although
she still finished second in most categories to Sung Hyun Park.
She did win the Player of the Year award, edging Park by a single
point, and became only the third golfer in history to exceed 1 billion
won in a single season, earning 1,022,449,332 won. This still left
her second behind Park, who earned over 1.3 billion won. Ko managed
three wins, second to Park's seven. Her first win was at the EDaily
Women's Open in late April. She also won the big money BMW Ladies
Championship and the Hite Cup, which was her first career Major.
Ko wound up with 16 top tens in 2016. Besides the
three wins, she had two seconds and two thirds.
Ko played three LPGA events as well, but did not
finish in the top 20 in any of them. In the Fall, she played at
the ING Champions and Kowa Queens team events, both times representing
the KLPGA tour. At the ING, she won 1 up teamed with Seung Hyun
Lee against MJ Hur and Eun Hee Ji, and teamed with Su Yeon Jang
to beat Amy Yang and Mirim Lee 3 & 2. She also beat So Yeon
Ryu in the singles 3 & 2.
At the Kowa, she lost to Japan when teamed with
Jiyai Shin , but won when teamed with Cecilia Cho against the LET.
In the singles she won 3 & 1 against Erika Kikuchi.
In 2017, it looked like it might finallly be time
for Jin Young Ko to rise to the top of the KLPGA. But she got off
to a relatively slow start, and second year player Jeong Eun Lee
6 instead won several tournaments to rise to the top. Ko finally
won her first event in late summer, and followed that up with another
big win shortly after that. She wound up earning 743 million won
for the season, good enough to place her fourth on the season ending
But her biggest moment of the year came when she
played the LPGA's Hana Bank Championship in October. She found herself
in the lead with one round to go. She was paired in the final group
with two of the biggest Korean stars, In Gee Chun and Sung Hyun
Park. The crowds that showed up for that threesome were insanely
large, and though she had her fans, most of the gallery were there
for one of the other two. But thanks to some great iron play, Ko
wound up taking the trophy, and in so doing, earned an LPGA tour
card for 2018.
At the end of the year, Ko played the ING Champions,
where she helped lead her team to an upset victory over the LPGA.
Among her great moments was a singles victory over LPGA star Sei
Young Kim. At the Kowa Queens, she won her first two matches and
tied in the finals, winning the team's MVP award.