Jin-Young Ko, New Jersey, Baltusrol, LPGA
Andrea Lee lines up a shot during the KPMG Women’s LPGA Championship. (Photo by David Venezia - JSN)

LPGA's Jin-Young Ko & Marina Alex Show Admiration for the State of New Jersey

Heading into the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, South Korean native Jin-Young Ko was ranked No.1. Often, many golfers usually play or warm up on the course prior to the competition, however Ko openly admits she hasn’t played prior to this week. Several other competitors practiced and played on the course following Founders and Mizuho. Arriving last Saturday, naturally, Ko was given less time to prepare, however she’s excited and looking forward to competing in New Jersey. 

Despite her lack of preparation, Ko acknowledges how difficult or challenging the golf course can be. Yet, she’s hopeful as she has a plan and understands if she keeps the ball on the fairways or greens, she can capitalize on a lot of birdies. Ultimately, she understands her focus will be tested and she must be alert at all times with inclement weather approaching.

“The course is really challenging golf course and not easy, but if keep fairways or greens, I can make a lot of birdies,” Ko explains during the LGPA press conference. “Focus more on the tee shot and second shot, and the greens are really firm and fast. I need to more focus on the golf course.”

What Does Jin-Young Ko Enjoy About New Jersey?

In the past, Ko has found immense success in New Jersey. In fact, in early May, she won her 15th LPGA Tour Title. Naturally, she felt good returning back to New Jersey, however possibly not for the reasons one would think. Although she’s found success multiple times in the Garden State, the things that she enjoys the most are the bagels. 

“Yeah, I think so, because in 2021 I had my first win in New Jersey,” Ko emphasized. “After 2021, I felt, I like New Jersey. A few weeks ago I had one more win at the Founders. Now I love to play in New Jersey. This golf course is tough, so we'll see.”

“A few weeks ago I found a great bagel restaurant,” she continues. “...I got every bagel every morning, and cream cheese.”

Ko understands some of the significance of the Baltustrol course and what it represents, however she admits that she doesn’t know in full totality because of the year she was born. Yet, she knows this course holds a ton of value and numerous history has been made on this course, therefore she’s excited for the opportunity to make history of her own.

“I heard a lot of history at the golf course, but I didn't know 100 percent what was the history at this golf course because I think before I born, the stories. But this golf course is pristine. So it's good.”

Hometown Hero Marina Alex 

New Jersey native Marina Alex grew up in Wayne, which said many would think Alex has an advantage on the course. Instead, she’s not familiar with the course because throughout her career she was never really given the opportunity to compete in such a prestigious level.

“I actually haven't really played here at all over the years,” Alex states. “It's a tough place to get out to, and there were not a lot of junior golf tournaments here at Baltusrol. It's a major championship venue. It's pretty much reserved for major championships.”

Unfortunately, Thursday morning, Alex appeared to struggle early in the opening holes of the match. However, as the day progressed she began to shoot better and find her rhythm. Initially, the course can be very intimidating and frustrating as many competitors similarly describe the course.

“Yeah, it is a real championship course,” Alex continues. “It's a very intimidating golf course. There's really not a lot of margin for error out here. You're one foot in the rough, you can get a terrible lie, and then you have a lot of things to contend with. The green complexes are hard. It's a privilege to be playing out here. It really is a great golf course. It is unlike anything else, just playing so close to where I grew up.”

Ultimately, the beauty of sports is it will never be how you start, but rather how one finishes.  

“No, I think it was just -- it was an early tough morning. The conditions have been really difficult all day,” Alex explained her early struggles. “Kind of more focused on that than necessarily on the first tee shot here at a major, and in my home state, I think I was just trying to get a good round under my belt, which was harder than anticipated.”