World No. 1 Ko Jin-young relying on yoga to regroup during injury-plagued LPGA season

SEOUL– In an attempt to bounce back mentally and physically from her nagging wrist injury, Ko Jin-young, world No. 1 in women’s golf, took up yoga.

Unable to hit as many shots in practice as she wanted due to the tender wrist, Ko said she took an interest in yoga while “trying many different things.”

And with a better frame of mind and improved health, Ko will return to LPGA action this week on home soil after two months away. She is one of 78 players in the field at the BMW Ladies Championship at Oak Valley Country Club in Wonju, some 85 kilometers east of Seoul in Gangwon Province. This is the lone LPGA event in South Korea this season.
“Some poses may look easy, but you really have to concentrate,” Ko said at her pretournament press conference. “Early on, I had so many distractions, and I kept falling down. But now I have the strength to maintain forms. I also want to strengthen my mind. If I have a healthy mind, I should be able to stay healthy on the field.”

Ko is the defending champion this week. Though she has not played since late August, Ko has stayed at the top of the world rankings. Ko won her first tournament of the 2022 season at the HSBC Women’s World Championship in March and has recorded four more top-10 finishes.

“If you keep practicing hard trying to improve your game, the some parts of your body are bound to break down. For me, it was the wrist,” Ko said. “Around the halfway point of the season, I wasn’t playing as well as I hoped, and I started thinking too much. The wrist was one thing. I felt I could suffer a burnout if I kept going on like that. I didn’t want to go through the motions just playing tournaments.”

Ko said she is not 100 percent pain free, but her worst days are behind her.

“I won’t blame anything on my wrist even if I don’t get a good result here,” Ko said. “Since this is the only LPGA tournament in Korea, I am that much more motivated to play well.”

Thailand rookie sensation Atthaya Thitikul is breathing down Ko’s neck in the world rankings, trailing only 7.59 to 7.24 in points. She will play at Oak Valley this week, as will world No. 3 from Australia, Minjee Lee (7.01 points).

“I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel any pressure of trying to protect my turf, but I also don’t think my grip on the top ranking is permanent,” Ko said. “As long as I play well, I believe I can always stay on top.”

The BMW Ladies Championship will have a US$2 million purse, with $300,000 going to the winner.

This is the third edition of the tournament. Before Ko, Jang Hana of South Korea won the inaugural event in 2019. The 2020 tournament was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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