In a down-the-stretch thriller, Na Yeon Choi emerged with a one-shot victory at the Coates Golf Championship.
When the dust settled on one of the tumultuous back nines in recent LPGA memory, Lydia Ko emerged with the No. 1 ranking – the youngest in men’s or women’s golf history – but not the tournament title after a double bogey on the 17th derailed her from the title that Na Yeon Choi walked away with. Choi finished one shot clear of Ko, Ha Na Jang and Jessica Korda at the Coates Golf Championship Presented by R&L Carriers at 16 under. But when Lydia Ko exited the scorer’s tent, she was informed that at 17 years old she was the new projected No. 1 when the rankings are released come Monday.
Lydia Ko finished in a tie for second to become the youngest No. 1 in world golf history – men’s or women’s – at the age of 17. The previous record was Tiger Woods when he became No. 1 at the age of 21 in 1997. Yani Tseng previously held the women’s record at the age of 22.
She let out an exasperated gasp, rolled her eyes as if the mere thought of No. 1 was an annoyance, everyone laughed, and she smiled and ran over to take selfies with fans. Only Ko could have remained this cool throughout a disappointing loss and subsequent major honor. As always, nothing seems to have an influence on the new projected world No. 1.
“It’s amazing. I didn’t know that, I didn’t really know what I needed to do to get in that position. All I was focused was try and play my best out here today. So it’s a huge honor to be in that ranking,” Ko said. “I’m just going to focus on my golf, not think about the rankings. The rankings, like I said, it always comes after the results.”
Na Yeon Choi didn’t walk away with the ranking but she surely exited with the trophy after a final-round 68. The eight- time career LPGA winner hadn’t won since 2012 and was admittedly getting fed up with a self-perceived cold streak.
“I think I had a lot of stress from my results,” Choi said. “Even if I finished top 5 or 10, not many people said, ‘You did a good job!’”
Choi said the pressure from back home began to mount with each stellar result, which in turn then later exacerbated the perception of a slump among fans and media in Korea. She finished 13th on the money list – the worst finish in her seven years on Tour – and “no one says, like, ‘Na Yeon did a good job.’”
“I know they have a lot of expectations from me because they think I’m a good player, so they always want me being a champion and win a tournament,” Choi said. “But this is golf and there’s like more than 30 tournaments a year. And still last year I missed the cut twice, but that was the most I have in like the last seven years and they think I got like a slump.”
Player NaYeonChoi LydiaKo
Ha Na Jang JessicaKorda
R1 R2 68 70 68 69 67 65 66 72
R3 R4 ToPar 66 68 -16 65 71 -15 71 70 -15 69 66 -15
WHEN THEY REACHED NO. 1
LydiaKo 17/9/9 5 23 43 0 TigerWoods 21/5/16 5 16 36 9 Jiyai Shin 22/0/5 6 24 47 1 YaniTseng 22/0/22 6 34 78 5
PLAYER Martina Hingis Monica Seles Tracy Austin Lydia Ko
AGE 16/6/1 17/3/9 17/3/26 17/9/9
YEAR ORG 1997 WTA 1991 WTA 1980 WTA 2015 LPGA