RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. – World No. 1 Jin Young Ko opened with her first over-par round in eight months to sit well off the pace on Day 1 of the Chevron Championship.
Ko carded a 2-over-par 74 on Thursday to end a record streak of 34 consecutive rounds under par, dating back to July. The two-time major champion pointed to her putting as the source of her struggles in Round 1, evidenced by the 34 putts she needed to get around Mission Hills Country Club.
“I couldn’t see the break as much or speed, everything was wrong,” Ko said. “I don’t know what happened.”
Mission Hills has been a conundrum for Ko. Prior to winning in 2019, she hadn’t finished better than T-71. Last year, she admitted to not liking the golf course before she won. And on Thursday, her ambivalence towards the venue brought an end to her run of rounds under par. The streak ended just one week after her record stretch of 16 consecutive rounds in the 60s was halted by a second-round 71 at the JTBC Classic in Carlsbad, California.
Full-field scores from the Chevron Championship
Ahead of her season debut, Ko told GolfChannel.com that she was still worried about the left wrist injury she had been coping with since last year. But when she won in her first start at the HSBC Women’s World Championship in February, that seemed to answer any questions about her physical condition. However, when Ko arrived stateside for the JTBC Classic, her left wrist was taped. Ko said it was strictly precautionary and she had it taped again for this week’s major championship.
When Ko’s streak of rounds in the 60s came to an end last Friday, Ko said she would rather have been at the beach than playing golf. She opted to rest after her putting struggles on Thursday, rather than practice.
It was 12 months ago, ahead of the Chevron Championship, that Ko lost her beloved grandmother, who was in South Korea while Ko was in the U.S., unable to travel because of the pandemic. The loss weighed heavily on Ko, but also became a source of inspiration as Ko won five times in the latter half of the year. Ko has her parents on site this week at Mission Hills.
With a pair of LPGA records having concluded over the last two weeks, Ko might feel unburdened the rest of the way at the Chevron. She’s eight shots off the lead, so she’ll need to start another sub-par run to be in contention on Sunday, or just make the cut.