Golf-Ko finishes strong to win LPGA player of the year award

FILE PHOTO: Tokyo 2020 Olympics - Golf - Women
FILE PHOTO: Tokyo 2020 Olympics - Golf - Women's Individual - Final - Round 2 - Kasumigaseki Country Club - Kawagoe, Saitama, Japan - August 5, 2021. Ko Jin Young of South Korea in action. REUTERS/Murad Sezer

(Reuters) - Ko Jin-young earned her second LPGA player of the year award after firing a sparkling final round nine-under 63 to defend her title at the CME Group Tour Championship in Tiburon on Sunday.

The 26-year-old South Korean ended the year on a tear, winning five of the last nine LPGA tournaments she competed in and edging American Olympic gold medalist Nelly Korda for the player of the year award.

"It's a really great honor to get the player of the year ... I'm so proud of myself," Ko, who also took home the sport's biggest award in 2019, told reporters.

Ko has recently been battling a left wrist injury that kept her practices to a minimum, but you would not know it as the two-time major champion carded 23-under 265 in Tiburon.

"I didn't practice at all for this week, not even Monday or Tuesday," she said after earning her 12th tour victory.

"But I still played really well this week. I couldn't believe I was hitting every shot so straight and how every putt went in. It was cool."

Ko began Sunday's round in a four-way tie for the lead and ended with a one-stroke win over Japan's Nasa Hataoka.

"I had to make a lot of birdies on the front nine, and I made it," she said of her hot start, where she shot a 30 before making the turn.

"So I didn't look at the score board until 12 or 13. But I knew Nelly and Nasa were playing well, so I just wanted to keep within myself and not look at the score board or the other players."

(Reporting by Rory Carroll in Los Angeles; Editing by Himani Sarkar)

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