Updated: January, 2018

JIN YOUNG KO

The Facts

Birthday: July 7, 1995
Rookie Year: 2018
Rookie Year on KLPGA: 2014
Birthplace: South Korea
Best LPGA Finish: Win (2017 KEB Hana Bank Championship)
Best LPGA Major Finish:
2nd (2015 Ricoh Women's British Open)
Height: 5' 7"
2018 LPGA Status: Category 7
Nicknames: None Known
Sponsors: Hite, Wide Angle
How's her English?: Decent
Hobbies: Unknown
Road to the LPGA: Earned an LPGA tour card by winning the 2017 KEB Hana Bank Championship.

Capsule Bio

Jin Young Ko was one of the top amateur golfers in South Korea as a teenager. She turned pro in late 2013 and played on the developmental Jump Tour the rest of that year. She did brilliantly there, collecting three wins and nine top tens. She finished 4th at KLPGA Q-School to qualify for the KLPGA tour in 2014.

Galleries

Seoul Sisters Pix

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 end.

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 money list.

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.

Back to Other Players Page