Callaway AI Smoke Clubs
Callaway Golf Balls
Drummond Golf oct 2020
Event Wrap-Up The 2023 LPGA Founders Cup

Perseverance paid off for Jin Young Ko at the Cognizant Founders Cup. Trailing by four shots at the start of the final round, Ko rallied to defeat Minjee Lee with a par on the first hole of a sudden-death playoff on Sunday evening after both players finished four trips around Upper Montclair Country Club in 13-under par 275.

Reigning AIG Women’s Open and ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open Ashleigh Buhai finished alone in third place at 278 after a closing 70. Ko finished with a bogey-free 5-under par 67 to claim the Founders Cup title for the third time in five years. Her previous wins came back-to-back in 2019 and ‘21 (the tournament was cancelled in 2020 because of the pandemic). 

Ko said one of the keys to her round was leaving herself makable birdie putts; she converted five birdie chances.

“I really focused on my iron shots,” she said, “because with the greens, I found it very hard to judge distance and the break. I putted very well the last three days and the last two weeks or three weeks.”

Ko noted the greens were somewhat quicker on Sunday than they were the rest of the week thanks to winds that dried the putting surfaces.

“The first hole I (ended up) behind the green,” she said. “I thought it was landing 10 meters short, but it landed 15 meters short and released a lot. I found today that the greens were really fast.”

The win was the 16th LPGA title for the 27-year-old Ko and puts her atop the world rankings for the second time in her career; the first was in 2019.

Lee was three strokes clear of Angel Yin when the final round started but that margin drifted away on the wind thanks in part to a double bogey at the par-3 sixth when her tee shot found water well short of the green.

“I just plain hit it fat,” she said. That error dropped Lee a shot behind Ko who birdied three if her first seven holes. Lee went on to birdie three of the next six holes to regain the lead but bogeyed the 16th while Ko rolled in a long birdie putt at 18 to regain a share of the lead. 

Both players reached the first playoff hole, the 339-yard par-4 18th, in regulation. Ko left her 20-foot birdie putt inside a foot. Lee’s 15-foot birdie try rolled five feet past; her par putt slid by the right edge without touching the hole.

“Obviously I would've liked to have won,” Lee said, “but looking back at my whole year and just kind of assessing where I am -- how I did this week, I think a lot more positives than negatives.

“Obviously I'm a little bit disappointed, but I think I can take more of the happy moments into my next -- into the next stretch of events and the rest of the year.”

Words by Rick Woelfel