The LPGA names its rookie of the year … with four tournaments left to play
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Dominance is often a subjective measure, but it can be bolstered by objective means. To that end, you can clearly state that South Korea’s Jin Young Ko has been the dominant rookie on the LPGA in 2018, having won once, had four top-three finishes and 11 top-10s.
Yet if you’re looking for a measure of dominance that will satisfying subjective and objective thinking, try this on for size. On Tuesday, the LPGA announced that the 23-year-old had officially wrapped up the Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year award. It’s a grand accomplishment, particularly when you consider that there are still four events to be played on the LPGA schedule.
The LPGA determines its top rookie award based on a points system, which Ko leads with 1,137 points. Her next closest pursuer is Georgia Hall of England, who, to date, has 383 points. Winning an event earns you 150 points, which means the difference is such that mathematically no one can catch Ko.
If this all sounds sort of familiar, you might recall that last year Sung Hyun Park clinched rookie of the year honors early, too. Park did it with five events left on the schedule, although she also won a major championship along the way.
Critics might note that it’s a bit of a misnomer to consider Ko a rookie. For one thing, she had 10 victories on the Korean LPGA Tour prior to joining the LPGA. She also had won an LPGA title, last year’s KEB Hana Bank Championship, as a non-member, which convinced her to play the LPGA Tour full time in 2018.
Ko got this year off to a grand start, winning the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open in February to become just the second player to win in her debut as an official LPGA member. With four starts left this year, she has earned $1,045,572, ranking eighth. She leads the tour in greens in regulation (77.44 percent) and is second in scoring average (69.6). She ranks ninth in the Rolex Player of the Year race, too far back of leader Ariya Jutanugarn to pull off what Park did last year and earn POY and ROY honors. She is, however, in sixth place in the Race to the CME Globe standings, making her a solid dark-horse pick as the year-long race nears its finish.