ShopRite LPGA Classic Presented by Acer News and Notes, Sat., Oct. 2

NO. 2 JIN YOUNG KO, NO. 3 INBEE PARK SET UP SUNDAY SHOWDOWN AT SEAVIEW They seem to be matching each other shot for shot at the ShopRite LPGA Classic Presented by Acer. Jin Young Ko and Inbee Park, Nos. 2 and 3 in the Rolex Rankings, respectively, have both recorded rounds of 66-65 on the Bay Course at Seaview, a Dolce Hotel. And both have secured 13 birdies, 21 pars and two bogeys to reach 11-under par overall and share the 36-hole advantage. One differing factor between the two 6-under 65s on Saturday: Ko faced light breezes in the morning, while Park battled gusting winds throughout the afternoon. “It was a little windier out there, but the weather was a bit warmer than yesterday morning. So, striking the ball a little bit better than yesterday,” said Park, who won the Kia Classic in March. “Bogey-free would've been nice, but one bogey on No. 8. Hit over the green with the downwind, just didn't get up and down.” Ko is searching for a third victory in her last five starts. It’s the type of rhythm she expects after making changes to her team a season ago. “I would say my game was perfect on the front nine and is [overall] pretty good, like better than earlier in the year,” said Ko, who is a combined 48-under in her last 16 rounds. “I changed my swing coach [last year], so swinging or putting, everything is getting better right now.”

While Ko will hunt for birdies as she chases a 10th career LPGA Tour title, Park will continue to rely on her flatstick. Since KPMG Performance Insights began tracking stats in June, the 21-time LPGA champion is converting 63% of her putts from 10-15 feet, which greatly outshines the LPGA average of 29%. “Jin Young is a really, really good player, too, so I think it'll be really fun out there tomorrow playing with her,” Park said. “Obviously, you need some birdies out here to win tomorrow. Knowing the No. 2 player in the world is hunting for the same thing I am hunting for, definitely need a good performance. “I'm putting very good the last couple days. Holed some really, really good putts. I think that's what we need on this golf course, and I have been doing that. When I got speed right, I got the line right.” Second-year rookie Patty Tavatanakit rounds out the final grouping. She fired a bogey-free 65 in the second round and is two shots back of the leaders. A Rolex First-Time Winner at the ANA Inspiration in April, Tavatanakit is once again sensing a concentration fit for a champion. “I was really focused the last two rounds and haven't really felt that intensity on the course in a while,” said Tavatanakit. “I feel like it got me back into a good momentum going into last couple weeks of the season. I want to enjoy it more because a couple of times I have been in contention, I tried too hard to force things to happen and I didn't really enjoy it.” Brittany Lincicome (67) and Nanna Koerstz Madsen (68) share fourth at -8 overall. They’ll be joined by Su Oh (65) in the penultimate grouping, as the Australian sits in a tie for sixth with three others trailing the lead by four strokes.Defending champion Mel Reid (79) missed the cut, as well as local amateur and tournament sponsor exemption Megan Ganne (76). A total of 73 players made the cut of 1-under par. WITH A WIN…

Jin Young Ko would join Nelly Korda as the only three-time winners on the LPGA Tour this season. Ko would collect $262,500 winner’s check and move to $6,946,556 in career earnings, passing Michelle Wie West and Dottie Pepper. Ko would become the fifth player from the Republic of Korea to reach double-digit wins in LPGA Tour history, joining Se Ri Pak (25), Inbee Park (21), Sei Young Kim (12) and Jiyai Shin (11).

Inbee Park would collect a $262,500 winner’s check and surpass $1 million in single-season earnings at $1,219,350. Park would secure her 22nd career victory and move within three of joining Se Ri Pak as the winningest player from the Republic of Korea in LPGA Tour history. Park or Patty Tavatanakit would become the fifth player with multiple wins on the LPGA this season. Tavatanakit would become the first rookie with multiple wins in her rookie season since Sung Hyun Park won twice in 2017.

Brittany Lincicome would secure her ninth career victory and first since the 2018 Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic. Lincicome would become the first #LPGAMom to win on Tour since Stacy Lewis at the 2020 Trust Golf Women’s Scottish Open.

Nanna Koerstz Madsen would become the seventh Rolex First-Time Winner of the 2021 LPGA season. Koerstz Madsen would become the first player from Denmark to win on the LPGA Tour. FIRST OR NOTHING FOR JIN YOUNG KO It was 1996 when, in his first long-form sit-down interview as a pro, Tiger Woods made one of his most prophetic declarations. “Second place sucks,” Tiger said. Curtis Strange, who was interviewing him, smiled and said, “You’ll learn.” A quarter century later, it was we who learned. Tiger taught a generation to play to win or go home, to accept nothing short of victory every shot, every day, every week. One of the players who has embraced that philosophy is Jin Young Ko. A week ago in Arkansas, Ko put together a sold 54 holes but failed to catch Nasa Hataoka in the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship. When asked what she hopes to accomplish in events like that, Ko said, “Win every tournament.” That’s it. Three words, one philosophy. She’s too proper and courtly to say “second place sucks,” but the concept is the same. The daughter of a boxer, Ko, who shot 66-65 in the first two rounds of the ShopRite LPGA Classic presented by Acer to take an early Saturday lead, looks like a character out of a Rocky movie. Soft spoken, dead eyed, and impossible to rattle, she keeps coming at you, round after round, until you make one mistake. Then a killer right hook puts you away. “I had a lot of good opportunities for birdies,” she said of her Saturday performance. “I made a lot of really good putts, so I didn't make a bogey today. That makes me very happy and I can't wait to play for tomorrow.” She had made a couple of bogeys on Friday that irked her. And she went straight to the putting green after her opening round to work on a stroke that looked flawless to everybody but her. “My putting has been good since [the Cambia] Portland [Classic],” she said. The kind of work Ko puts in will do that. The night before she won her first major, the 2019 ANA Inspiration, the maintenance staff had to mow the putting green around her in the dark. To read the full story from Steve Eubanks on LPGA.com, visit: https://www.lpga.com/news/2021/first-or-nothing-for-jin-young-ko

BRITTANY LINCICOME PLAYING FOR DAUGHTER AND LATE GRANDMOTHER Two-year-old Emery Gouws ran toward the ninth green, yelling “Mommy done,” much to the delight of the fans gathered for her Mommy’s autograph. Little Emery, accompanied by grandparents Tom and Angie Lincicome, was so excited to see her Mommy Brittany Lincicome walk out of the scoring tent. Make no mistake that Mommy was happy to see her little girl. But she was also thrilled with her second straight round of 4-under 67, putting her at -8 overall and just three strokes off the lead heading into the final round of the 2021 ShopRite LPGA Classic presented by Acer. “She's a great cheerleader. She loves being out there and doesn't make a peep the whole round. Most 2-year-olds can't be quiet for that long,” said Lincicome with a big smile to Emery, who was waiting just outside the interview area. “But she loves golf and loves watching Mommy play golf, so it's great.” But less than an hour after leaving the course, Lincicome took to social media with sad news. Her 91-year-old grandmother died on Saturday at 5:30 p.m., right around the time Lincicome finished her second round. “I’ve decided to stay and finish this tournament (because) I believe it is what she would have wanted. But I can promise you it won’t be easy,” Lincicome wrote on Instagram, a sentiment accompanied by photos with her grandmother, mother and daughter – four generations of strong women. With a win on Sunday, Lincicome would join a small sorority of #LPGAMoms to win on Tour after giving birth. Stacy Lewis won the 2020 Trust Golf Women’s Scottish Open less than two years after giving birth to her daughter Chesnee. Nancy Lopez, Juli Inkster, Cristie Kerr and Catriona Matthew all took titles with kids in tow, with Matthew winning the 2009 AIG Women’s Open just 11 weeks after delivering her daughter Sophie. Lincicome is one of nine #LPGAMoms playing this week, a group that includes Sakura Yokomine, who is making her first LPGA Tour appearance since giving birth to a son in February. Additionally, Azahara Munoz is playing in the early stages of pregnancy, expecting her first child in March. With more than 20 moms actively playing on the LPGA Tour, Lincicome would like nothing more than to add a win to their #LPGAMoms ranks, with her baby girl there to see her Mommy’s success. “I think she would know. It's cool,” said Lincicome, an eight-time winner whose last victory came at the 2018 Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic. “When you get into contention at a tournament, you never know which events your child is going to be at. Emery kind of picks and chooses which ones she comes to. It's cool to be playing well, it's cool to have her here. I think it'll help me play better tomorrow. I think it'll be really cool to have her on the green with me if I do win.”



PERRINE DELACOUR’S NEW CALLAWAY IRONS BRING ON-COURSE SUCCESS

Two weeks ago, Perrine Delacour notched her best finish since Feb. 2020 with a fourth-place showing at the Cambia Portland Classic. Move 3,000 miles east to the opposite coast and she’s right back in the hunt in New Jersey, heading into Sunday’s final round at -7 after a four-birdie, one-bogey round of 68 on Saturday.


“Today it was playing harder I feel like, especially this morning was cold compared to yesterday. Played really solid,” said Delacour, now in her seventh year on Tour. “Unfortunately, made that bogey on No. 2. Everything was pretty good. Solid rounds, solid playing.”


Delacour pointed to a major overhaul of her golf bag as the key component to her strong play of late. The Frenchwoman plays with a full Callaway set and visited the company’s Carlsbad, Calif., headquarters ahead of her trip to Portland. After getting dialed in with her San Diego-based coach Chris Mason, she went through a full fitting and switched from the Apex to the Apex Pro irons. She immediately saw the difference that week in Portland.


“I switched to an iron that put more spin on it, so I was happy about it,” said Delacour. “That definitely helped my game, for sure. I think I was closer to the pin since I have those new irons, so I'm pretty happy about it.”