Korean tour star announces move to LPGA for 2018

By Yonhap
  • Published : Nov 20, 2017 - 10:32
  • Updated : Nov 20, 2017 - 10:32

South Korean golfer Ko Ji-young, the 2016 Korea LPGA Player of the Year, will take her talent to the LPGA Tour next year, her agency, Galaxia SM, said Monday.

The 22-year-old earned her eligibility by winning the LPGA KEB Hana Bank Championship on home soil last month.

"I've been dreaming of reaching the LPGA Tour ever since I started playing golf," Ko said in a statement. "I've decided to take on this challenge to realize an even bigger dream. I'll try my best to win a tournament and earn the Rookie of the Year award."

In this file photo taken Oct. 15, 2017, Ko Jin-young of South Korea celebrates her victory at the LPGA KEB Hana Bank Championship at Sky 72 Golf & Resort`s Ocean Course in Incheon. (Yonhap)

The LPGA KEB Hana Bank Championship is the only LPGA event held in South Korea each year, and Ko was the fifth KLPGA player to win the tournament, which was first held in 2002 under a different corporate sponsor.

The four players before Ko -- Ahn Si-hyun, Lee Jee-young, Hong Jin-joo and Baek Kyu-jung -- all jumped to the LPGA Tour but had limited success. Ahn did win the 2004 Rookie of the Year but, like the three others, didn't win a tournament in her US career.

Ko said she is looking forward to learning from the best in the world.

"I will have a physically draining schedule, but I'll try to be grateful for small things along the way," she said. "Early in the season, I'll focus on getting adjusted to the new tour as quickly as I can."

Ko had to inform the LPGA of her decision by 5 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on Monday, a week before the start of the LPGA Final Qualifying Tournament. That would have been 7 a.m. Tuesday in Seoul.

Ko, who joined the KLPGA Tour in 2014, has nine career wins on the domestic tour. She beat out Park Sung-hyun, the co-LPGA Player of the Year in 2017, for the top KLPGA player award in 2016. This year, Ko won twice to rank fourth on the money list and third in the Player of the Year points standings.

Ko played at the LPGA Tour's season-ending CME Group Tour Championship in Naples, Florida, on Sunday (local time), and finished in a five-way tie for 16th. (Yonhap)