What are the chances of a Ko being at the top of the leaderboard at the end of the first day of the HSBC Women’s World Championship at Sentosa, Singapore?

Pretty good, you have to think, what with Jin Young Ko, 28, and Lydia Ko, 26, having won 35 LPGA titles between them and two majors apiece.

 (Photo by Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images)



    Jin Young, the daughter of a boxer, is in the news leading up to this 16th HSBC Women’s World Championship because she won the ’22 and ’23 editions and has her heart set on turning that double-deal into a hat-trick. (The last person to achieve such a feat was Annika Sorenstam who captured the same three majors – the LPGA championship – in ’03, ’04 and ’05.)

     To give a couple of examples of Jin Young’s consistency, she amassed as many as 114 bogey-free holes in a row in 2019, the year she won her majors. Again, when she won the ‘23 Cognizant Founders Cup, her fourth-round 67 was her 29th round in the 60s in 30 starts.

      Few doubt that she has what it takes to handle the pressure that awaits at the Tanjong course, especially when it would seem to fit her game to perfection. So much so that she was moved to ask the CEO of HSBC if he would be good enough to keep his tournament at the same venue for the next 15 years.

      Yet the big question for now is whether she has shrugged off the injury problems she knew in ’22 and ’23. Originally, it was just the left wrist playing up, only then the equivalent knee made for trouble half-way through last season’s Annika tournament. The latter prompted her to take a long break in the off-season and to delay her return to the LPGA’s ’24 circuit until the LPGA Asian swing.

 (Photo by Yong Teck Lim/Getty Images)

     Lydia, meantime, has already had a first place finish in the ’24 Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions and a runner-up berth in the Drive On Championship. The win was only her second since early ’22, for she too, had been battling wrist problems. When those died down after a minor operation and she was still struggling to find form, she wondered if stress was the answer, with ongoing press questions as to when she would make the Hall of Fame probably partly responsible.

     She arrived one point closer to getting the job done with her win at the Hilton event and is now in a position where she could pick up the final point she needs in Singapore. Yet on the grounds that it is better not to dwell on such a treasured golfing milestone, she has made a point of switching her worries to the ‘24 Olympics (26 July —11 August). That fortnight, she will be going all out to add a gold medal to the silver and bronze she already has under her belt.“I don’t know,” she said, “whether I’ll still be competing by the time it comes to L.A. in ’28.”

 (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)


 Plenty of players change their minds about when they are going to retire but Lydia has sent out much the same message about stopping by the time she is 30 since she was a 17-year-old invitee at the HSBC.

   Where Lydia began playing at six and Jin Young at seven, both Kos won Rookie of the Year awards  — Lydia in 2014 and Jin Young in 2018. Since when, the two have been confusing everyone with their identical surnames. How often have we seen the headline, “Ko Wins” and been left to wonder to which Ko the writer might be referring?

    Not that your average follower of the women’s game would have a burning desire for one Ko to beat the other. Though Lydia’s status as a child super-star — she was the leading amateur in the world at 13 — has given her the edge in terms of fame, each is as charming in defeat as she is in victory.

   Both credit their parents with having done most to influence their careers, with the paternal advice handed out in Jin Young’s case probably going a long way to explain how she had what it takes to break Tiger Woods’s record when she churned out those 114 bogey-free holes in a row. And, of course, to how she could succeed with her three-peat.

   The dad told her that whatever else she did, stamina would always be the key to success.

  “He never,” said Jin Young, “gave me golf tips but, as a former boxer he inspired me to be both physically and mentally fit for the game. I trained for golf like a fighter trains for a title bout.”

   In keeping with which, who can wait for the bell to ring for Ko v. Ko.