It was a mad final afternoon scramble in Phoenix to see who might claim the Founders Cup title on Sunday.
It looked like any one of a half-dozen players could jump into the winner’s circle but by the day’s end at Wildfire Golf Club, it was Jin Young Ko’s 65 that captured the title.
Ko birdied three of the final five holes to post 22 under for the come-from-behind victory. She started the day three behind overnight leader Carlota Ciganda.
Both the Korda sisters made their presence felt as the two Americans came up just a shot short of a playoff with Ko. Older sister Jessica jumped up the leaderboard with eagles on both the back nine par fives — 11 and 15. Another birdie at 16 got her within a shot of Ko but pars on the final two holes left her at 21-under.
Birdies at 15 and 16 got Nelly to 21-under but that was as close as she’d get.
Ciganda, who posted a 63 on Saturday to take the lead, cooled off and her Sunday 69 left her in the group at 21-under along with Yu Liu of China.
Ko credited men’s No. 1 Dustin Johnson for a better on-course attitude that helped her to the win. “She (fellow Korean player Jennifer Song) told me Dustin hit so bad and he didn’t get angry – put clubs in the bag and just walk,” Ko said. “So, I tried like Dustin yesterday and today. I just tried no angry, no happy, just focus. ”
It worked. She also credited the new rule that allows players to leave the flagstick in the cup. “Lots of players thinks if there is a pin in the ball might hit the pin and come out,” Ko said. “I think it’s great to put the pin in because of it makes it easier for me to putt because it is a small target.”
Ko was an accomplished player on the South Korean LPGA with 10 wins there. She won the 2017 LPGA KEB Hana Bank Championship in South Korea to earn her LPGA Tour card and took the Women’s Australian Open last year.
She broke through in the U.S. on Sunday in the event that honors the 13 women who founded the LPGA Tour.
“But my friends told me, ‘You can do it.’ Also my manager and my parents, my caddie, all people say you can,” Ko said. “I got lots of confidence for this year. Really good for third win in the States.”