Jin Young Ko breaks record set by Lorena Ochoa while using Ochoa’s former caddy | LPGA

15-time LPGA Tour winner Jin Young Ko has set the new record for most career weeks spent at No. 1 in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings. Monday, June 26, marks her 159th week at No. 1, surpassing the previous 158-week benchmark set by Lorena Ochoa in 2010. The Republic of Korea native rose to No. 1 for the fifth time in her LPGA Tour career after her victory at . Cognizant Founders Cup on 14 May.

“I didn’t think I was going to break Lorena’s record because I didn’t play well today,” Ko said after her final round at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship. “But it’s really an honor to beat (Lorena’s) record. I’m very grateful to those who supported me and prayed for me.”

Ironically, Ko has used Lorena Ochoa’s longtime caddy, David Brooker, since 2019. Brooker was with Ochoa from August 2006 to June 2009, when the pair split after winning 21 tournaments together. Ochoa retired in May 2010 with 27 career LPGA Tour wins, two of which were major championships.

Along with Ko and Ochoa, Brooker has caddied for several high-profile players, including European Solheim Cup captain Suzann Pettersen, 2004 Chevron Championship winner Grace Park and 2007 Evian Masters champion Natalie Gulbis. But there was always something different about the two players who became world No. 1 while he was behind, qualities that set them apart from his other employers, qualities both mentally and physically that made them great.

“Physically, their golf games are very different. You could say opposites. Lorena was very long, who hit it long, made lots of eagles, lots of low rounds. And Jin Young is more like Annika, much more consistent,” Brooker said. “They didn’t have many similarities in the way they played the game, but mentally the similarities are striking. Their ability to let the bad moments go is very similar.

“The competitive nature of Sunday afternoon shone through and they won many events because mentally they were the stronger players. So I can see more on the mental side that the similarities were there.”

Ko has faced plenty of adversity in recent years, most notably a lingering wrist injury that plagued her for most of the 2022 season, a year in which she won just one LPGA Tour event, an anomaly for the dominant superstar. So far this season, she has taken two victories, successfully defended her title at the HSBC Women’s World Championship and won her third Cognizant Founders Cup in four starts at the event at Upper Montclair Country Club in Clifton, NJ

Conversely, Ochoa didn’t deal with injuries or face many struggles throughout her eight-year LPGA Tour career, opting to step away when she was seemingly at the top of her game. Brooker has been impressed with Ko’s tenacity in the tough moments she’s faced in recent years, and while her career has been drastically different from Ochoa’s in that regard, Ko’s determination to just keep fighting through has stood rather than her caddy.

“Lorena never really had to go through (the) injuries that Jin Young has had with his wrist last year,” Brooker said. “It’s true. Lorena didn’t have to deal with too much adversity because I mean we won 21 times in three years, so it was a lot of really good moments and not a lot of bad moments.

“Jin Young has handled adversity the way you would expect the number one player to handle it – with hard work, just digging in and doing everything right off the field as well. Just mentally awake and willing to put in the time and day in in the off-season.”

And it’s that gritty mentality that defines a player that helps predict their propensity for greatness and their career trajectory. Weak-minded players who live and die with every shot do not succeed in professional golf, on the LPGA Tour or otherwise. Ochoa and Ko both possess an uncanny ability to live in the moment and remain unaffected by the bad shots that are inevitable in golf, something that Brooker says makes it easy to spot a potential world No. 1 well in advance.

“Obviously there’s a magic, something different about them,” Brooker said. “Mentally, they are and were the best. Everyone has bad moments on the weekend, in pressure situations, but their ability to just focus on being present was something I saw. Really didn’t have to train them too much out of adversity. I just knew they had their full focus on the next shot.

“That’s the biggest difference I see when I see that level of players as opposed to those who aren’t quite there is just that mentally they’re stronger, not only in their own belief in themselves but also their ability to let bad moments just wash away.”

They were also fiercely competitive.

“There was a look in their eyes where they just wanted it, you know, and there was no fear,” Brooker said. “You could tell just by talking to them.”

As she enters her 159th week at world No. 1, Ko recognizes the magnitude of that achievement and how it demonstrates her longevity over her six-year LPGA Tour career. But rankings are just rankings, and Ko is much more focused on how to improve herself and her game, both on and off the golf course.

“I came to this Tour in 2018 and I got the world ranking in 2019 after (Chevron); it’s been a long time to be the world No. 1 and I worked really hard and I got a lot of pressure,” said Ko. » I think the pressure makes me stronger. The pressure makes me more of a better person and better player, so I want to get better and better. I want to be a better person and a better player.”

And Brooker knows that self-motivation and deep-seated desire to improve will help Ko maintain her status as the world’s best player, especially with the parity that currently exists in the women’s game.

“Lorena, in my opinion, was pushed harder because of Annika, and she wanted to get there with Annika,” he said. “I definitely think that Annika raised Lorena’s game. And I know Lorena was very upset when Annika finished because she wanted these Sunday afternoons to try her skills again for Annika.

“Jin Young is very aware that there are five players who could be number one right now, possibly even more players. I think Jin Young is practicing hard because she knows there are four or five players who if she’s not at her best, she’s not going to win. It’s important that you have the competition because it makes you practice harder because you know what they’re doing. That’s a good thing for women’s golf. Picking number one at the end of the year, it’s not easy anymore. It used to be one or two players. Now it’s five or six, possibly even more.”

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