Rolex Ranking No. 1 Jin Young Ko Sets Record-Breaking Bogey-Free Streak
Australian major winner Hannah Green and South Korea’s Mi Jung Hur hold a slender one shot lead from America’s Jane Park and Monday qualifier Yealimi Noh after opening rounds of 64 (-8) at the 2019 Cambia Portland Classic.
Green, who captured the 2019 KPMG Women’s PGA Championship earlier in the season to become only the third Australian to win a major in history, needed only 23 putts en-route to a career-best LPGA score of 64. Carding eight birdies and ten pars, Green made gains on the final three holes to overtake Park, who led for much of the day having been amongst the morning starters.
The 22-year-old said, “I was really solid from six foot and in, which I had a lot of those type of putts today. I knew putting was really key this week, so I worked pretty hard on my putting. When I first got here I hit it 10 foot past from a 15-foot putt, so I knew that they were rolling really well and going to be quick, which is what I like to play on.”
Joining her at the top of the leaderboard is 2009 champion, Mi Jung Hur. The South Korean is in some of the best form of her career, recently capturing her third LPGA Tour title at the Aberdeen Standard Investments Ladies Scottish Open, and closed out her first round in the same fashion with three consecutive birdies.
“I had a really good day with my tee shots and long game, so I just tried to be patient with my putter because the greens are so good and so fast.”
Park, who is playing in her 12th season on the LPGA Tour since winning qualifying school in 2007, might still be waiting to lift her first trophy but started her week with serious intent, opening up with a hole-out eagle from 112 yards on the 10th (her 1st). Further ‘kick in’ birdies on the front nine saw her get to 6-under-par thru 7 holes. She went on to shoot a round of 65 (-7) – her best score at Columbia Edgewater Country Club in 13 appearances.
“I’m super happy to get started off well here for a change. This is pretty much my favorite spot of the entire year because there’s obviously so much great food and the golf course is just pristine.”
Rolex Ranking No. 1 and two-time major champion this season Jin Young Ko fired a round of 68 (-4) to sit in T24 but perhaps the story of the day was the end of her record-breaking bogey-free run, which concluded after 114 holes on the par 4 9th hole.
Last week Ko became only the second player on LPGA record (since 1992) to win a 72-hole event without recording a bogey but her streak dates back much further than that.
Remarkably, Ko hasn’t dropped a single shot since the second hole of the third round of the AIG Women’s British Open on Saturday August 3.
She now holds the longest known bogey-free streak on both the PGA and LPGA Tour surpassing 15-time major winner Tiger Woods, who went 110 consecutive holes in 2000 whilst Bubba Watson managed 100 holes in 2006.
“Well, bogey-free is amazing round 18 holes, especially 18 holes, still fine. But I did 114 holes and then done. It’s cool, especially I set a new record so I want to do it again, 115 holes bogey-free hopefully.”
She continued, “Now it’s done, and my mind is free. I can focus more on my shots and don’t even think about, oh, bogey, bogey.”
A shot further back at six-under par is a pack of seven players from four different nationalities.
One of the most recognizable names is Rolex Ranked No. 5 Jeongeun Lee6 of South Korea, who is set to win the prestigious Louise Suggs Rolex LPGA Rookie of the Year award, after a season which includes a breakthrough major victory as well as nine top ten finishes.
Making her debut in Portland, Lee6 said, “All the courses that I’ve played this year, I have never played in my entire life, but it is nice to play with a lot of good players, it just makes me feel like kind of learning from them, from their experiences, and so I feel pretty grateful about that.”
Local amateur and Oregon State Sophomore Ellie Slama, who qualified for her first LPGA event on Monday with a round of 68 (-4), fired another 68 to equal world no. 1 Ko and sit in T24.
Slama, who has her brother Tim on the bag this week, said, “I’ve played here for five, six days in a row now, so I think that I’m slowly getting used to the greens. I had a lot of people come and cheer me on, which was really nice. Tomorrow I’ll just go out and try and do the same thing and just focus on one shot at a time.”
France’s Joanna Klatten made a hole-in-one on the 13th hole with a 7 iron from 167 yards.
The tournament will be televised by the Golf Channel and distributed globally to the LPGA’s international television partners.