NAPLES, FL. — Beware of the injured golfer. Korea’s Jin Young Ko is the defending champion in the biggest money event in women’s golf, and she’s definitely injured.
An injury to her left wrist has troubled her since May and she never takes a full swing in practice. On a scale of 1 to 10 she says her wrist feels like a five. Earlier this week her caddie suggested she consider withdrawing from the CME Globe Tour Championship, which has a $5 million purse with a record $1.5 million going to Sunday’s champion.
Citing the big prize money and the fact that it’s the LPGA’s last tournament of 2021, Ko refused. Injured or not, shenn had a stunning birdie streak in Saturday’s third round and is part of a four-way tie for the lead going into Sunday’s finale.
Ko made seven straight birdies en route to shooting a 66 on Saturday. Her 14-under-par 202 total for 54 holes matches that of Nasa Hataoka, of Japan; American Nelly Korda and France’s Celine Boutier. Hataoka bettered Ko’s birdie streak on Saturday, making eight in a row en route to shooting the day’s low round – an 8-under-par 64. Still, Ko is in the thick of the battle.
“I’m sick right now, but I don’t want to withdraw,’’ said Ko. “I just keep hitting the ball straight, choose the right club and read a break right (on the greens).’’
Her birdie streak came on holes 2-8 on the Gold Course at Tiburon Golf Club. Unfortunately she made bogeys a bogey at No. 9 and had only pars on the back nine.
“I was feeling I could make any putt on the front nine,’’ she said. “I had a lot of good golf, but had a lot of missed shots on the back nine.’’
Ko and Korda have both won four tournaments this year. If either wins on Sunday she’ll be the first to win five in a season since Ariya Jutanugarn in 2016. Korda, winner of last week’s Pelican Championship in Bellaire, FL., earned her share of the lead thanks to an eagle at No. 17 that helped her post a 67. Boutier was the 36-hole leader but was able to maintain a share of the top spot despite shooting a 72