WOBURN: Ko Jin-young first attracted international attention when she finished runner-up to Inbee Park at the 2015 Women’s British Open at Turnberry.
Four years on, and Ko arrives at this week’s Women’s British Open at Woburn as the world number one and seeking to join an elite group of golfers who have won three majors in one season.
Ko first claimed the world’s top ranking when she won the first major of the season — the ANA Inspiration. She snatched top spot back from fellow South Korean Park Sung-hyun with victory in the Evian Championship on Sunday.
Winning back-to-back majors would be a huge feat and the 24-year-old would become only the seventh player to gather three major titles in a single campaign.
Ben Hogan and Tiger Woods have done it in the men’s game and Babe Zaharias, Mickey Wright, Pat Bradley and Inbee Park, in 2013, are the women who achieved the same feat.
“I was always looking forward to this week, but to win in Evian has made it even more special,” Ko said.
“I honestly can’t remember much about Turnberry but I missed the cut last year.
“My game has undergone a big change since then. I got a new short game coach, and a mental trainer. That’s the difference.
“Because it is two majors in a row I am feeling like there is no Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday. It is two straight four days.
“But to win two or three Majors in a year is really tough. I have a chance this week and I will do my best.”
Next year, Ko has another big goal as she targets an Olympic debut in Tokyo.
“I’m excited that I might play in the Tokyo Olympics,” she admitted.
“The Olympics are really important for Korea. It would be so good.”
– ‘Really cool’ –
Georgia Hall melted home hearts last year when she won the British Open at Royal Lytham and St Annes with her father working as her caddie.
The defending champion heads a strong entry from the host country.
Charley Hull, who grew up playing at Woburn, and Melissa Reid, third in this season’s LPGA Championship, will also be aiming to mount a serious challenge.
“The year has gone by very quickly,” said Hall. “I’m excited to be back and to be able to be in England. I think it is really cool.
“I haven’t played the course at all this year. When it was here three years ago, I practised quite a bit and I didn’t do very well.
“So I decided to take the same approach as last year and just play it the week of the tournament.
“And Dad is on the bag again. He always works the British Open, so it’s very nice for him to be back and to have my Mum here as well.”
One downside over the past year for Hall was when the replica trophy was stolen from her car in London — it has never been found.
“Someone smashed my back window at 12 o’clock in the middle of the day, and just took it,” she said.
“There was no CCTV. Now I’m trying to find out if I can get another one.”