Ko commands and captures Cambia Portland Classic title
A day off because of rain didn't slow South Korean Jin Young Ko at the LPGA Cambia Portland Classic.
Rain forced postponement of Saturday's third round, and LPGA officials made it a 54-hole tournament. Ko didn't relinquish her lead in the final round Sunday, shooting 3-under 69 to win the tournament by four shots at Oregon Golf Club in West Linn.
It's her ninth career win, and second this year. Ko, 26, entered the tournament ranked No. 2 in the world in Rolex rankings, behind the United States' Nelly Korda, who skipped the Portland event.
Ko finished at 11-under 205 for the three-round tournament. She drained a long putt — guessing it was "seven meters" — on No. 18 for birdie to clinch the win.
Ko was unfazed by the cancellation of the third round.
"I really wanted to play (Saturday), but we couldn't play. I tried to make a no bogey-free round (Sunday), (and) I made it," she said. "I had a lot of missed shots and I had a lot of missed chipping or something, so I had to make great par saves, (and) I made it."
Jeongeun Lee of South Korea and Su Oh of Australia tied for second place at four shots back after each shot 3-under 69s Sunday. Oh and Lee both earned the best finishes of their LPGA Tour careers with their tie for second.
Ko started Sunday with a one-stroke advantage over Gemma Dryburgh. She made her first birdie at No. 7, with her lead growing to three strokes after Dryburgh made bogeys at 3 and 6, and the lead grew to five with another birdie at No. 10.
But Lee and Oh kept within striking distance. Ko, ever the confident putter, drained her long putt on from the back of the green on No. 18.
"I was thinking, 'I just make two putt.' Easy. But the ball goes in, so, who knows," she said with a laugh.
Ko said she went shopping with her parents and manager on the free day, and ate Korean food and ice cream and watched Netflix — "and I took a rest," she said.
Ko had taken six weeks off since playing in the Olympics and only one other LPGA tourney since her win July 1 at the Volunteers of America Classic in Texas.
"I spent a great time in Korea after the Olympics, maybe over six or seven weeks. I had a lot of practice with my same coach and I had a lot of workouts, three times or four times each week," she said. "My body weight is getting higher, so, (laughing) but I had a great week this week and I'm so happy for the name on the trophy. Yeah, it's a great win, I think."
For both wins this season, Ko had her parents watching her play in person.
Obviously, Ko is looking forward to returning to defend her Cambia Portland Classic title. Organizers moved to the tournament to Oregon Golf Club because of concerns about homeless camps near Columbia Edgewater Country Club in north Portland.
"This course was really amazing, perfectly clearing, and fairways and greens are really perfect," she said. "So I can't wait to play next year.
"Fairways were really narrow and greens are, too, so we had to hit it straight to the fairway or even green as well and greens are really fast so we had to make sure great speed on it. But, I did a great job this week."
Tom Maletis, president of Tournament Golf Foundation, will be retiring from his post. Ko had some kind words for Maletis.
She said: "I want to say thank you for who supports the LPGA Tour — Tom (and) a lot of people are behind us. So I want to say thank you to all and Cambia, this year is the 50th anniversary (of the tournament), so I want to say congratulations and thank you."
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