Live golf continues to inch its way back, much to the delight of fans and the eternal gratitude of charities.
On Sunday, Rolex Rankings No.1 and reigning LPGA Player of the Year Jin Young Ko squared off against Rolex N0.3 Sung Hyun Park in the Hyundai Card Super Match, a skins game to raise money for COVID-19 related charities.
The match, held at Sky 72 Golf & Resort in Incheon, South Korea was contested with no spectators on the grounds but lots of interest and viewership throughout Asia. Each of the first six holes were worth 2,000,000 Korean won (US$16,200). Holes 7 through 12 were worth 4,000,000 won (US$32,400), holes 13, 14 and 15 were each worth 6,000,000 won (US$48,600). Numbers 16 and 17 were each worth 8,000,000 won (US$64,800) and the final hole was worth 10,000,000 won (US$81,000). Also, each player was given one opportunity to play a “Chance Card,” which added an additional 10,000,000 to the purse.
The match couldn’t have been closer or more exciting. After Ko played her Chance Card on 17, Park won the hole with a birdie to take the lead. But Ko rallied with a birdie on the final hole to square the event, with both player earning 50,000,000 won for their respective charities.
“Actually, I thought a lot about where to use the Chance Card,” Ko said. “I picked the par-3 17th hole but that turned out to be the wrong choice when I saw Sung Hyun make birdie. It could have been a big difference. Luckily, I finished with a birdie on 18.”
They both found playing without fans to be different, and in ways, unnerving.
“It's been a long time since I played game without fan reaction,” Ko said. “It’s become a habit to shake hands. There were some awkward holes because no one responded to my play. It was a pity that I couldn't hear the cheers and applause. I hope that this situation will get better soon so that I can see many people on the course.”
Park agreed, saying, “I'm sorry that it's only a one-day event. But if you watched us play for four hours, we’re very grateful. I hope you continue to support both of us. And I hope that you are staying healthy.”
As for the outcome, Park said, “I think this was the best possible scenario. Even before we started, we talked how cool it would be if won the same amount. And that’s how it worked out. It was perfect. I was amazing.”