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October 15, 2017

Jin Young Ko

Incheon, South Korea

THE MODERATOR: We are delighted to have with us the winner of the 2017 LPGA KEB Hana Bank Championship, Jin Young Ko, with a testimony record total of 19-under since this tournament began over four rounds in 2014.

You shot a 4-under par 68 today and you came back very strongly after two bogeys in the first three holes. How did you get this victory done today?

JIN YOUNG KO: (Through translation.) I have to say I was quite flustered after I made the two bogeys on the front nine. Today I really realized once again that with golf you have to stick until the end to know.

After I made the two bogeys I had a really long chat with my caddie, Dean, about why I was so nervous. I realized I had no reason to be nervous, and I was actually putting a lot of pressure on myself.

So after that, Dean was there, he kept reminding me that being nervous was quite natural, that I needed to accept those nerves. I think I kept reminding myself of that.

I also tried to focus on the fact that even if there are bumps along the way, I can make opportunities to make up for the bumps. I think all in all, God was on my side today.

THE MODERATOR: Not only is this your first LPGA Tour victory, but you dropped two shots behind the world No. 2, Sung Hyun Park, and were able to overcome that. What's the significance of this victory for you?

JIN YOUNG KO: (Through translation.) I think it's really meaningful for me, especially since about three years back - two years ago and also last year - when I was playing while I was playing with Chun In Gee and Park Sung Hyun, unwillingly and unintentionally we were kind of caught up in the media's eyes in a rivalry.

This was a bit stressful. I think that during this event, and especially today, I really learned a lot from them. Through them, I kind of have been able to be given the opportunity to think about how I want to play my golf going forward.

Today, although I was in contention, I wasn't really focused on winning that much. I was playing against exceptional players that rank much higher than me on the global ranking. But rather today I was able to observe a lot. I actually learned a lot today as well.

I felt a lot of different things today. That would be the main thing about today.

THE MODERATOR: How meaningful is it to you to win your first LPGA title in your home country, and what was it like playing in front of record crowds for this tournament today in a final grouping followed by massive galleries? What was that like?

JIN YOUNG KO: (Through translation.) I have won on the KLPGA before, so winning in Korea is nothing new. As you mentioned, this is the first LPGA win for me in Korea.

I think I was especially honored, and I think it's especially meaningful, that I was able to win in front of my fans.

You mentioned that there was a record turnout. In the final grouping I was able to really realize just how many fans In Gee and Sung Hyun have. When we were walking from hole to hole the gallery would be cheering for them and I couldn't really hear my name. That was a bit disappointing slightly, but at the same time I knew God was on my side.

I kind of told myself that the ten million Christians in Korea are probably all rooting for me. It was a first for me to play in front of such a large crowd. I think that that is also going to be an experience that can help me grow further as a player.

THE MODERATOR: You had six birdies today in that 11-hole stretch from the 5th. On the 14th hole Sung Hyun three-putted; you made a very difficult two-putt to save par. How crucial was that hole?

JIN YOUNG KO: (Through translation.) I think after the tee shot my ball ended in the rough, and In Gee and Sung Hyun's ball landed on the fairway actually where there was a really good lie.

From the rough I knew it was a really difficult shot. I think I shot well out of the rough, but afterwards the ball went beyond the green where hadn't had my ball land in any of my practice rounds.

Going in I thought hard about how I was going to putt. To be honest, I don't know how I did it. I think the first putt was really good. I don't know how I made the second par putt, but I did.


Q. (Through translation.) No. 14 you mentioned how the ball hit the pole. If it hadn't, where do you think it would've landed?
JIN YOUNG KO: There was a little mound behind the pin, and the ball hit the pole and swerved left. So if it had not hit the pin, I'm thinking that it would've -- the ball would've been in a more difficult situation for me to play.

Q. (Through translation.) In the final round after you made the final putt and knew that you locked in victory, what were some of the thoughts that were in your mind?
JIN YOUNG KO: I think I have been quite nervous starting yesterday, so after the final putt I was kind of overwhelmed with emotion that I played a round, a good round, and that I had no regrets.

Q. (Through translation.) You earned a ticket to the LPGA, and I'm sure you still are in the process of making up your mind. I think there would be two options for you. You could join this season or wait until next season. Which do you think it would be?
JIN YOUNG KO: I haven't really given it much thought because I hadn't imagined I would be given the opportunity. I haven't really considered my options when it comes to the LPGA yet.

There is another major event in the KLPGA that starts next week, so my mind was more on that. I can't give you a response on what I plan to do.

Q. (Through translation.) You obviously bogeyed No. 2 and 3. It seemed on No. 2 the second shot hit the pin and that resulted in a bogey. The third shot, the tee shot and approach shot, was short, and that led to bogey. Of course then you turned things around. I know you commented about that a little earlier. What are some thoughts or how did you kind of turn things around?
JIN YOUNG KO: (Through translation.) As you mentioned, I made two consecutive bogeys on 2 and 3. I think at the time the wind was kind of swifting constantly and we had to be very cautious about what clubs I was going to use. It was difficult to read the wind, so I think that's what led to the miss-shots.

That's when I let Sung Hyun at the time get ahead of me. As I mentioned earlier, I just tried to be more relaxed and patient about the opportunities that could come my way. I was quite nervous, and as I mentioned earlier, I just prayed, and I told God I was leaving it up to him.

Q. (Through translation.) On 11 you missed a very short birdie putt. Can you tell us a little bit about that situation. I think anyone who has played golf, if you miss a putt from that short of a distance, you become really flustered and frustrated, yet you seemed to bounce back on No. 12 with a birdie. Can you tell us about that as well. Second part of my question is you are a KLPGA player. Aside from going to the LPGA, what are your plans for the remaining season of the KLPGA?
JIN YOUNG KO: On 11, you're right, I missed a very short birdie putt. For me it seemed between the hole and the ball there was a divot. I talked to In Gee about it and she said she didn't think there was a divot. And Dean also agreed. They thought it was just a bump in the grass.

But that's not why I missed that putt. I misread the break. That's why I misread that putt. You're right, it is frustrating.

But the next hole, No. 12 was a par-3 hole, and the pin was in a location that I personally liked, so I was very confident with my swing. I think that was how I was able to get birdie.

As for my plans for the remaining season, as you mentioned, because I'm a KLPGA player, I should focus on the remaining season of the KLPGA.

As for whether I am joining the LPGA, that's not a decision I can make on my own. I would have to discuss that with my parent, my team, on what's the best way forward.

Q. (Through translation.) Can you tell us a little bit about the situation on 7? On 7, Sung Hyun made the green in two and then she three-putted for par. You made a birdie on 7. You actually successfully sunk a birdie putt that was kind of an uphill putt around five meters. I think after No. 7 you were able to get to more consecutive birdies at 8 and 9. I think that was a turning point for you. Can you elaborate on that situation?
JIN YOUNG KO: (Through translation.) I expected Sung Hyun to make it in two since she's a long hitter. I'm not as strong a hitter as she is, so I thought that I would make the green in three.

The location of the pin was actually quite tricky. I think my third shot was very strong, and that was how I opened the chance for a birdie putt. Then I saw Sung Hyun and she made a very aggressive attempt at eagle putt. I thought I would play it safe. I think I read the break accurately, and it was very rewarding and exciting for me to see the ball sink in the hole.

THE MODERATOR: Time for two more questions.

Q. (Through translation.) I think initially you were struggling and it showed. Your expression was solemn. I think after the three consecutive birdies you kind of relaxed. Where do you think the turning point was in your game? At which hole did you sense that you had a real chance at winning?
JIN YOUNG KO: (Through translation.) So I think the kind of deciding holes were in the back nine. I would have to say 11, but also specifically 14, 15, 16. It was really difficult on 14, but I managed to save par.

On 15 Sung Hyun made it on the green in one, and I had a very tricky birdie putt, which I managed to hole.

On 16 I also saved par. So I think those three hole were quite important.

Q. (Through translation.) So you said that you thank God for your victory. You mentioned God a couple times. Can you tell me a little bit about your life as a Christian? This is unrelated to golf.
JIN YOUNG KO: (Through translation.) I attend service. It's Sunday today but obviously I couldn't make it. This week every evening I've been searching YouTube for sermons by preachers. Then there are theology Ph.D. students who have the YouTube channels where they kind of explain the Bible. I've been doing my own homework and trying to understand the Bible more.

This week every night I've been looking up the story of Noah's Ark in Genesis.

THE MODERATOR: Final question: You mentioned earlier you felt nervous early in the round, but your caddie, Dean, had a chat with you and calmed you down. He's been on your bag for two years. He one of the most experienced caddies out there. How invaluable is it having him on your bag?

JIN YOUNG KO: (Through translation.) I been with Dean two years. I think we are a great fit for each other. I have to say he can be very, very objective. He's unwavering in any situation, and he really keeps you grounded and makes you look at reality. Sometimes he's kind of scary, but I think we're really a great fit.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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