NAPLES, FLA | Two-time champion Jin Young Ko has returned to the CME Group Tour Championship to defend her title. But, just like last year, Ko will be battling a wrist injury that has plagued the latter half of her season.
After missing consecutive cuts for the first time in her career in August, Ko took a seven-week hiatus to rehab a nagging repetitive-motion injury in her left wrist. The former world No. 1 finally returned to the LPGA Tour for the BMW Ladies Championship, but quickly withdrew after being +15 through 54 holes. Her next event was the Pelican Women’s Championship, where she missed the cut after posting 3-over par through the first two rounds.
Considering her recent performances, the question entering the CME Group Tour Championship is obvious: what is Ko’s condition?
“It's ok, but not good,” was Ko’s simple answer to the wrist question during a press conference on Tuesday. She went on to say that her wrist hurts on every shot and feels worse this year than it did during her last visit to Tiburon Golf Resort. But she said there is nothing she can do except tape it up and take medicine.
The next question is: why is Ko still playing?
“I just want to know what problems are in my game right now,” she explained. “I was debating whether I should go back to the States or not to play the last two tournaments until I got on the plane. Even though I am having a hard time right now, the two events will make me stronger. I have to feel something from this pain and my difficult situation.
“It’s the first time I’ve had such a difficult situation in my life, but I think I need times like this because I need to think for myself.”
With just one event left on the schedule, Ko has decided to play through her pain and “tough it out.” She will be limiting her practice heading this week, just as she did last year, and will not be hitting balls on the range. Since she won’t be able to spend much time working on her game, Ko’s focus right now is her mindset.
“I don’t want to think too much,” Ko said. “Now in my mind I have a lot of things from golf or from life, so I want to be clear in my mind. Just one tournament left, so I’m going to tough it out.”
It will be hard to forget about her wrist when it hurts with every swing. Ko said she relates to Nelly Korda’s statements on dealing with the uncertainty that comes with injuries.
“Same as Nelly, I’m worried about my wrist, how long this injury takes to recover,” Ko said. “This is my fault because this is my body. I didn’t (take) care of my body, so that’s why it caused the problem with my wrist.”
During the off-season Ko does not plan to undergo extensive treatment for her wrist. The only thing new she will try is blood spinning, also known as platelet-rich plasma therapy.
Though she may not be at her best physically, Ko has won against all odds before. She won the CME Group Tour Championship last year while dealing with the same injury. She also prevailed at the HSBC Women’s World Championship in March.
“I have great memories here,” Ko said of Tiburon. “Last two years I had two wins, so I’m happy to be here. I like to play this golf course, but it’s not easy, so hopefully this week will be the same as the last two years.”
The CME Group Tour Championship will be televised for all four rounds. Fans can watch rounds one and two live on the Golf Channel on Thursday and Friday from 3 to 5 p.m. ET. The third round will be televised on tape delay from 4 to 7 p.m. Saturday ET. The final round will be live in NBC from 1 to 4 p.m. ET.
Rounds one through three can be streamed live from 2-5 p.m. ET and Sunday’s competition will be streamed live from 1 to 4 p.m. ET on golfchannel.com NBCSports.com, the NBC Sports app and Peacock.