One streak came to an end, but the admiration did not. Jin Young Ko, who has won six of her last 10 LPGA Tour starts, continued setting records on Friday at the JTBC Classic presented by Barbasol. Ko fired a 1-under par 71 to enter the weekend at 8-under par and tied for fourth, three shots behind leader Nanna Koerstz Madsen.
In so doing, Ko continued her rounds-under-par streak. Thirty-two consecutive outings have seen Ko post a red number, an all-time LPGA Tour record. The last time Ko shot even or over par was the Amundi Evian Championship last July.
But this was the first time in 17 rounds going back to October 18 that Ko has put up a number that did not begin with a 6. On Thursday in Carlsbad, she extended the all-time LPGA Tour record she already held for most consecutive rounds in the sixties. The mark is now 16.
The only person likely to break it soon is Jin Young Ko herself, who will start counting again this weekend.
“I feel like people don’t give her enough credit for how dominant she is and how consistent she is,” Cheyenne Knight said after watching Ko’s first two rounds in the states since she won the CME Group Tour Championship last November. “She always strives to be better. She’s definitely someone that I look up to. And I feel like she’s never fully satisfied. How good she is in every aspect of her game is incredibly impressive.”
It’s extraordinary when you dive deeper into the numbers. If it wasn’t for a 71 in the first round of the BMW Ladies Championship in Korea last fall, the consecutive rounds in the 60s would have been 30.
Counting Friday’s 1-under par performance, in her last 11 starts, Ko is 151 under par.
In that stretch, she has made birdie on just under 30% of the holes she’s played. Think about that. On three different continents, in all kinds of weather, over two different seasons in close to six months’ time, Ko has birdied almost one out of every three holes she’s played.
She’s also carded 13 bogey-free rounds and is hitting more than 80% of her greens in regulation, an average of 14.5 greens hit per round.
“The stats are very impressive,” Stacy Lewis said on Friday in Carlsbad. “She’s probably the best ball striker we’ve seen in a really long time. As long as she can stay healthy, I think the sky’s the limit for her.
“I don’t think people realize how hard it is when you take time off and then come right back into it and keep doing what you’re doing. She’ll take two or three weeks off and it’s like she never missed a beat. Most people, it takes a round or two to get back in the groove. But she just seems to go right back into it. And it doesn’t matter what style of golf course it is, which goes back to her being a good ball striker. A good ball striker can play on any golf course.”
Knight agreed on the ball-striking front, comparing Ko to one of the all-time greats. “I don’t anyone has seen this since Annika (Sorenstam),” Knight said. “We’re just trying to keep up with her. I hope people fully grasp what she is doing. It’s very Tiger-esque. And I feel like nobody really has that on any tour right now except for Jin Young.
“I hope a lot of people tune in and see how good she is.”
Hye-Jin Choi had another take on why Ko is so dominant at the moment. “I feel like she has a strong mind,” Choi said.
But Choi did agree with others on one thing when it comes to Jin Young Ko. “She is on a different level,” she said. “I really admire her.”