(Reuters) – Former world number one Lydia Ko showered herself in early wedding presents as she secured the LPGA’s season-ending title, the tour’s Player of the Year award and a big winner’s check in her last tournament before tying the knot.
Ko’s two-stroke win at the CME Group Tour Championship in Florida on Sunday left her with three titles for the season, her best haul since 2016, when the New Zealander dominated the Women’s game as a teenage colossus.
After barren years in 2019 and 2020, and a procession of caddies and swing coaches, the South Korean-born 25-year-old has gradually returned to her best golf.
Happiness off the course has undoubtedly helped, with Ko soon to Wed fiance Chung Jun, the son of a prominent Korean businessman, in her birth-place, Seoul.
“I couldn’t have drawn it up any better,” the world number three said after winning the LPGA’s biggest check of $2 million at the Tiburon Golf Club in Naples.
“There’s been so many exciting things going on in my life. It will be my last win as a single lady.”
Ko said she felt her identity had been all wrapped up in golf during the lean period of her career, but she had since found balance away from the course.
“After meeting (Chung Jun), I’ve actually wanted to work harder during the times that I am working and then also enjoy time off,” she said.
“That’s … helped me to be more focused and be more on when I’m actually doing my work.”
Ko wiped away tears as she tapped in for par on the final hole at Tiburon, having outlasted Ireland’s third-round co-leader, Leona Maguire.
The win, her second in the season-ending event, ensured her a second LPGA Player of the Year award, seven years after her first.
She also claimed the Vare Trophy for a second year in succession after finishing with the season’s lowest scoring average of 68.988.
Only Annika Sorenstam, the Swedish great, has a better average (68.70 in 2002) among Vare Trophy winners.
“This has been one of the most consistent and solid years I’ve had,” said Ko.
“As much as I’m excited that I have won, I’m also excited for some time off and (to) get ready to become a bride soon.”
(Reporting by Ian Ransom in Melbourne; Editing by Bradley Perrett)