Ko Jin-young won her third LPGA Cognizant Founders Cup trophy at Upper Montclair Country Club in Clifton, New Jersey on Sunday, becoming the first-ever three-time winner of the Founders Cup and extending the Korean dominance at the event.
Having won the Founders Cup in 2019 and 2021, Ko lifted her third Founders Cup trophy — her 15th LPGA title — after beating defending champion Minjee Lee of Australia.
Ko and Lee were tied with a 13-under-par, 275, after the last round, forcing a playoff to decide the winner.
Lee made a bogey on the par-4 18th hole, while Ko managed a par to claim the victory as well as $450,000 in prize money.
The Founders Cup is Ko’s second LPGA title of the season, with her first victory at the HSBC Women’s World Championship in Singapore in March.
“It is such an honor,” Ko said after the event. “It is really hard to win an event three times, and winning it twice is also not easy, but I fortunately won it today.”
“I am so happy that I got my third victory, and I am thankful that I can convey a good news to Korean fans in the morning,” Ko said, referring to the fact that the playoff ended on Monday morning, Korea time.
Ko’s third Founders Cup title made her the winningest golfer in the tournament’s history.
The victory also allowed her to become the first-ever golfer to win the tournament on three different golf courses — her first victory was at the Wildfire Golf Club in 2019, second at Mountain Ridge in 2021 and third at Upper Montclair Country Club.
“I won the event three times, and the locations have been all different, and it really means a lot to me,” Ko said. “I did my best, and I really wanted to win an event since the tournament in Singapore. I am so happy that I was able to display a good performance today like this.”
Ko’s third victory extended Korean dominance at the tournament. First established in 2011, the Founders Cup has seen four Korean winners since Kim Hyo-joo became the first to win the title in 2015.
Kim Sei-young lifted the trophy the following year, before Park In-bee — a Hall of Famer with 21 LPGA wins — won it in 2018. Ko then continued the Korean run by winning it in 2019 and 2021.
Ko, currently ranked at No. 3 on the Rolex Women’s World Rankings, then defended the title in style in 2021 by routing the field for a wire-to-wire run.
The event did not take place in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Meanwhile, Ryu Hae-ran managed the second-best finish by a Korean golfer on Sunday, falling five strokes behind Ko to finish in fourth place.
Kim Sei-young, champion in 2014, was tied for 21st place alongside countrywoman An Na-rin with an one-under-par, 287.
Kim Hyo-joo and 2018 champion Park, on the other hand, did not compete in this year’s event.
Park has yet to make her return to the LPGA Tour since giving birth to her daughter last month.
Ko has been the most dominant Korean golfer on the Tour this season in the absence of Park, as the 27-year-old still remains the only Korean golfer to have won an LPGA event this season.
“I will work hard to show a good performance in the remaining season,” Ko said.
The LPGA Tour will resume on May 24 at the Bank of Hope LPGA Match-Play that tees off in Las Vegas.
BY PAIK JI-HWAN [firstname.lastname@example.org]