LPGA TOUR BACK IN REPUBLIC OF KOREA FOR THIRD PLAYING OF BMW LADIES CHAMPIONSHIP
The LPGA Tour returns to the Republic of Korea this week for the third edition of the BMW Ladies Championship, held for the first time at Oak Valley Country Club in Wonju. The inaugural event took place in 2019, with the 2020 edition cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Six of the top 10 players in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings highlight the field, including defending champion and world No. 1 Jin Young Ko, LPGA Tour rookie and two-time LPGA Tour winner Atthaya Thitikul and 2022 U.S. Women’s Open presented by ProMedica champion Minjee Lee. Ko earned her 11thcareer victory in last year’s BMW Ladies Championship after defeating Hee Jeong Lim in a playoff.
Alongside Ko, Lee and Thitikul, thirteen other 2022 winners will compete for a purse of $2 million, most notably Chevron champion Jennifer Kupcho and AIG Women’s Open winner Ashleigh Buhai. There are twenty players representing the Republic of Korea in the field, and eight players will be teeing it up as sponsors exemptions, including Na Yeon Choi, Sung Hyun Park and So Yeon Ryu.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE BMW LADIES CHAMPIONSHIP
- This is the third edition of the BMW Ladies Championship; it was first contested in 2019 and was not held in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic
- This is the LPGA Tour’s only event in the Republic of Korea
- This is the first time that Oak Valley Country Club will host the event
- Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings No. 1 Jin Young Ko is the defending champion; Ko won the 2021 edition of the BMW Ladies Championship in a playoff over Hee Jeong Lim
- In addition to Ko, five other members of the top 10 in the Rolex Rankings are in the field, including Atthaya Thitikul (2), Minjee Lee (3), Lydia Ko (5), Nasa Hataoka (9) and Hyo-Joo Kim (10)
- Na Yeon Choi, Yaeeun Hong, In Kyung Kim, Mi Hyang Lee, Su Oh, Sung Hyun Park, So Yeon Ryu and Jennifer Song are competing as sponsor exemptions
- A total of 20 players from the Republic of Korea are in the field
- Sixteen 2022 winners are in the field, including major champions Ashleigh Buhai and Jennifer Kupcho
DEFENDING CHAMPION JIN YOUNG KO RETURNS TO THE LPGA TOUR AFTER HIATUS
Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings No. 1 Jin Young Ko is making her return to the LPGA Tour this week as she looks to defend her title at the BMW Ladies Championship at Oak Valley Country Club in Wonju, Republic of Korea. Ko is set to tee it up for the first time since the CP Women’s Open in late August after taking time off to rehab a wrist injury, and the 27-year-old is looking forward to the opportunity to once again compete on Tour, especially as she looks to go back-to-back in her home country and earn her 14th career victory.
“After Canada, I came back to Korea and I took a six to seven week break. During that time, I got treatment from my wrist and I rehabilitated my wrist. I was not able to practice as much as I thought I could but when I did have the time to practice, I really focused on those sessions,” Ko said of her time away from competitive golf. “Last year, because the conditions were good and due to various factors, I was able to garner an unexpected victory. However, we are a different course and the weather conditions are slightly different. It's more chilly. I will do my best and I really want to do well. I think if I concentrate and focus on my play I'll be able to finish with good results.”
Ko defeated Hee Jeong Lim in a playoff in the 2021 edition of the BMW Ladies Championship to capture her 11th LPGA Tour title and the fourth of five wins she’d earn last season. It was her ball-striking that led her to victory as she was +7.87 in strokes gained approach, which accounted for nearly half of her strokes gained total for the event at 47.2%. Although she won earlier this season at the HSBC Women’s World Championship, Ko hasn’t been playing as well as she would’ve liked to be up to this point, and while she does her best to just focus on what she can control, the world No. 1 admits that there is a bit of pressure that comes with being the best player in the world.
“I would be lying if I said that there was absolutely no pressure when it comes to maintaining that ranking, but I have to say I am more interested right now in practicing because I want to be more satisfied with my golf instead of the title, the No. 1 player,” said Ko. “I'm surrounded by very talented players, though I never thought initially that ranking, that title was forever. The other players will do their best and I will give it my best. It will be nice to keep that title, but I do not think it's something that you can keep forever to begin with.”
But with the BMW Ladies Championship on tap, Ko isn’t worrying herself too much about her position in the Rolex Rankings. Instead, she’s looking forward to her title defense in her home country and she’s enjoying being back playing competitive golf at the highest level, something she’s been unable to do for the last several weeks. “I'm always happy to be back at the BMW Ladies Championship. There was a period for three years where the BMW Championship was held by the KLPGA, and in 2016 and 2017, I won the championship. Then I won last year,” Ko said. “I have three very similar-looking trophies, so that's always a good memory. And this is the only LPGA championship in Korea, so as a Korean player, I feel great pride and affinity to the championships, and of course this motivates me more.”