NAPLES, Fla. — Jin Young Ko has had a dominant season on the LPGA, winning four times in 2019, including two major championships. She is the No. 1 player in the world, and she broke Tiger Woods' record of consecutive tournament holes without a bogey, 114 to Woods' 110. Moreover, she already has won Player of the Year honors.
Yet Ko has arrived at the last event on the LPGA's calendar, the CME Group Tour Championship facing her biggest challenge this season.
The 22-year-old from South Korea, citing an ankle injury, considered not playing this week.
She said it happened in Taiwan, while playing in the Taiwan Swinging Skirts LPGA, three weeks before the Tour Championship. On the 18th tee during her practice round at Miramar Golf Country Club in New Taipei City, she took a practice swing and immediately felt pain in her ankle, around the ankle bone at the instep and outside of the foot. She said she stepped away from the tee, asking her playing partner to hit before her. After waiting a minute, she hit her tee ball, but still felt pain. Post-round, she got a massage and had a trainer tape the ankle.
Throughout the night, the ankle pain continued, but she decided to play. After two rounds, it was getting worse. On the 11th hole of the third round, "I said to [my] caddie, 'I can't play anymore.' He said, 'OK, you don't have to play. You need rest.' "
She withdrew from the event, went to a hospital in Korea to get a shot in the ankle and rested it for a week. She's been practicing since then.
When asked about considering not playing this week because of the pain, Ko said that she'd thought about it and is "still worried a little bit."