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World No. 1 Ko Jin-young to resume pursuit of 3rd LPGA major at Pebble Beach

July 4, 2023 - 10:12 By Yonhap
This photo from June 25, Ko Jin-young of South Korea tees off on the third hole during the final round of the KPMG Women's PGA Championship at Baltusrol Golf Club in Springfield, New Jersey. (AP)

World No. 1 Ko Jin-young will have her second attempt in three weeks to win her third career LPGA major, this time on a famed course in California.

Pebble Beach Golf Links in Pebble Beach, California, will host the 78th US Women's Open starting Thursday. Long considered one of the world's most beautiful courses, Pebble Beach has hosted six men's US Open tournaments, but never the women's event until this year.

Organized by the United States Golf Association, the US Women's Open is the longest-running tournament on the LPGA Tour. Ten South Korean players have won it, and Ko will try to join that list this week.

Ko owns the record for most weeks spent at No. 1 in the world rankings with 160, having broken a tie with Lorena Ochoa last week following the previous major tournament, the KPMG Women's PGA Championship. Ko finished tied for 20th there, and she'd tied for ninth at the first major of the year, the Chevron Championship, in April.

South Korean players won three out of the four majors played during the pandemic-interrupted 2020 season. In 2021, though, the country didn't have any major champion, the first time it was shut out at LPGA majors since 2010.

Last year, Chun In-gee ended the drought by winning the KPMG Women's PGA Championship. South Korea is 0-for-2 so far in 2023, with two more majors left after this week: the Amundi Evian Championship from July 27 to 30 and the AIG Women's Open from Aug. 10 to 13.

Ko represents South Korea's best hope for a major championship breakthrough this year, as she is the only player from the country to have won on the LPGA Tour in 2023. With her titles at the HSBC Women's World Championship in March and the Cognizant Founders Cup in May, Ko is also one of three players with multiple titles this year. She is joined by Lilia Vu of the United States and Yin Ruoning of China, this year's KPMG Women's PGA Championship winner. Vu and Yin are ranked fourth and fifth in the world, too.

Ko will be one of 22 South Korean players in the field this week, along with six former US Women's Open champions: Kim A-lim (2020), Lee Jeong-eun (2019), Park Sung-hyun (2017), Chun In-gee (2015), Ryu So-yeon (2011) and Ji Eun-hee (2009).

Jenny Shin, who was in the hunt for her maiden major title at the KPMG Women's PGA Championship two weeks ago before fading away in the final round, is back in action this week.

Korea LPGA Tour star Park Min-ji will make her maiden US Women's Open appearance. Park leads the money list on the domestic tour with a little over 500 million won ($383,780) and ranks second in the Player of the Year points standings. The 24-year-old has won 18 times in South Korea, including twice in 2023. (Yonhap)