Ko wins in first start since being dethroned as No. 1

Los Angeles (AFP) –


Ko Jin-young two putted for par on No. 18 to win the Volunteers of America Classic on Sunday, just one week after losing her world number one title.

In her first start since Nelly Korda overtook her, the South Korean carded a two-under 69 for a one-stroke victory over Finland's Matilda Castren.

Ko was No. 1 from July 2019, a streak of 100 consecutive weeks. But winning her eighth career LPGA Tour title on Sunday helped take some of the sting off being knocked off her lofty perch.

“I was thinking I had a lot of pressure with the No. 1 ranking,” Ko said. “But I made it this week. I’m very happy.”

Ko, who earned $225,000 for the victory, finished with a 16-under 268 total to edge Castren who closed with a 69 on the Old American Golf Club in Dallas, Texas.

''I had a lot of opportunities for birdies that I didn't make,'' Ko said. ''But I still won so it doesn't matter.''

She has now captured at least one win in five straight seasons going back to 2017. Her previous wins include the 2018 Women’s Australian Open and 2019 ANA Inspiration. Her most recent win was last year's CME Group Tour Championship.

Mexico's Gaby Lopez closed with a 65 to finish in solo third, two shots adrift of Ko. Lopez made her only bogey on the last hole.

Germany's Esther Henseleit closed with a 72 and tied for fourth with Ana Belac (68) and Emma Talley, who shot a 63.

Ko got off to a hot start by making birdie on three of her first four holes to open up a four-shot lead early in the final round. From there, she kept a lead of at least two shots for most of the round.

Castren made a late charge with a birdie at No. 17 to close the gap to one shot, but was unable to get any closer.

"I played with her the last two days, and it was just really cool to watch her play," Castren said. "She didn't make many mistakes at all, recovered from her not-so-great shots really well. I can definitely see why she was world No. 1 for so long."

Defending champion Angela Stanford carded a 71 to finish in a tie for 12th with fellow American Stacy Lewis.