Frisco resident Jin Young Ko wins VOA classic after dropping to No. 2 in world golf rankings

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THE COLONY – Jin Young Ko’s response to her drop to No. 2 in the world golf rankings was simple enough – a solid victory in the ninth edition of the $1.5 million Volunteers of America Classic Sunday afternoon at Old American Golf Club.The 25-year-old South Korean who resides in Frisco entered the final round with a one stroke lead and did just enough to maintain it over Finland’s Matilda Castren. Ko finished at 16-under-par after a final round 69. Castren countered with a 69 of her own and finished second at 15-under.The winner downplayed her world ranking drop as motivation: “Not really. I had a lot of pressure with world ranking No. 1,’’ Ko said. “But I made it this week and I’m so happy. And this week there was a lot of Koreans out there, so I want to say thank you to my Korean fans.’’Ko never surrendered a lead that swelled to as much as four strokes early in the round, but the final nine holes were tense ones as challengers made their move. Meanwhile, Ko played the final eight holes in 1-over.“I had a lot of opportunities for birdie but I didn’t make a lot of them,’’ said Ko. “I’m still the winner so it doesn’t matter.’’Castren, trying to join Nelly Korda as a multiple winner this season, doggedly stayed on Ko’s heels. She birdied the par-5 17th to close within a stroke going to the final hole and had a chance to force a playoff until an 18-foot birdie putt from just off the green missed on the right edge.When Ko dropped a three-foot par putt, her eighth LPGA victory was assured and the water-bottle dousing by fellow competitors began.It marked the fifth time Ko has converted in seven opportunities with a 54-hole lead.“I played with [Ko] the last two days and it was just really cool to watch her play,’’ said Castren. “She didn’t make many mistakes at all, recovered from her not-so-great shots really well. I can definitely see why she was world No. 1 for so long. I’m really proud of myself of how far I’ve come.’’Castren will lament a missed three-foot par putt on No. 15.Gaby Lopez made a late-round run at Ko, closing to within a shot with her seventh birdie of the day at the 17th. But the 27-year-old from Mexico City bunkered her tee shot on No. 18, leading to a closing bogey. Lopez, a two-time tour winner, settled for a 6-under 65 and third place, her third top 10 of the season.“I’m just really happy the way we fought,’’ said Lopez. “We fought until the end. I was happy with how I was committing to every golf shot.’’1/18Professional golfer Matilda Castren plays out of the No. 13 fairway side bunker during the final round of the LPGA VOA Classic on Sunday, July 4, 2021, in The Colony, Texas. (Elias Valverde II/The Dallas Morning News)(Elias Valverde II / Staff Photographer)2/18Professional golfer Esther Henseleit eyes her shot along the No. 12 fairway during the final round of the LPGA VOA Classic on Sunday, July 4, 2021, in The Colony, Texas. (Elias Valverde II/The Dallas Morning News)(Elias Valverde II / Staff Photographer)3/18The final grouping makes their way down the No. 5 fairway during the final round of the LPGA VOA Classic on Sunday, July 4, 2021, in The Colony, Texas. (Elias Valverde II/The Dallas Morning News)(Elias Valverde II / Staff Photographer)4/18Professional golfer Matilda Castren plays a ball off the No. 5 fairway during the final round of the LPGA VOA Classic on Sunday, July 4, 2021, in The Colony, Texas. (Elias Valverde II/The Dallas Morning News)(Elias Valverde II / Staff Photographer)5/18Professional golfer Jin Young Ko takes a breath as her group finishes on the No. 4 green during the final round of the LPGA VOA Classic on Sunday, July 4, 2021, in The Colony, Texas. (Elias Valverde II/The Dallas Morning News)(Elias Valverde II / Staff Photographer)6/18Professional golfer Jin Young Ko waves to the crowd after making birdie on the No. 4 during the final round of the LPGA VOA Classic on Sunday, July 4, 2021, in The Colony, Texas. (Elias Valverde II/The Dallas Morning News)(Elias Valverde II / Staff Photographer)7/18Professional golfer Esther Henseleit chips a ball onto the No. 4 green during the final round of the LPGA VOA Classic on Sunday, July 4, 2021, in The Colony, Texas. (Elias Valverde II/The Dallas Morning News)(Elias Valverde II / Staff Photographer)8/18Professional golfer Matilda Castren hits off the No. 4 tee box during the final round of the LPGA VOA Classic on Sunday, July 4, 2021, in The Colony, Texas. (Elias Valverde II/The Dallas Morning News)(Elias Valverde II / Staff Photographer)9/18Professional golfers Matilda Castren (left) and Esther Henseleit chat after completing the No. 3 during the final round of the LPGA VOA Classic on Sunday, July 4, 2021, in The Colony, Texas. (Elias Valverde II/The Dallas Morning News)(Elias Valverde II / Staff Photographer)10/18Professional golfer Esther Henseleit plays off the No. 3 tee box during the final round of the LPGA VOA Classic on Sunday, July 4, 2021, in The Colony, Texas. (Elias Valverde II/The Dallas Morning News)(Elias Valverde II / Staff Photographer)11/18Professional golfer Esther Henseleit smiles as she crosses the Old American Bridge with a young fan during the final round of the LPGA VOA Classic on Sunday, July 4, 2021, in The Colony, Texas. (Elias Valverde II/The Dallas Morning News)(Elias Valverde II / Staff Photographer)12/18Professional golfer Matilda Castren putts a ball on the No. 1 green during the final round of the LPGA VOA Classic on Sunday, July 4, 2021, in The Colony, Texas. (Elias Valverde II/The Dallas Morning News)(Elias Valverde II / Staff Photographer)13/18Professional golfer Jin Young Ko reacts after making the winning putt on the No. 18 green during the final round of the LPGA VOA Classic on Sunday, July 4, 2021, in The Colony, Texas. Ko won the tournament at 16 under par. (Elias Valverde II/The Dallas Morning News)(Elias Valverde II / Staff Photographer)14/18Professional golfer Jin Young Ko plays a ball off the No. 12 fairway during the final round of the LPGA VOA Classic on Sunday, July 4, 2021, in The Colony, Texas. Ko won the tournament, finishing at 16 under par. (Elias Valverde II/The Dallas Morning News)(Elias Valverde II / Staff Photographer)15/18Professional golfer Gaby Lopez pours a bottle of champagne on Jin Young Ko after winning the LPGA VOA Classic on Sunday, July 4, 2021, in The Colony, Texas. Ko finished the tournament at 16 under par. (Elias Valverde II/The Dallas Morning News)(Elias Valverde II / Staff Photographer)16/18Professional golfer Jin Young Ko holds the winner’s trophy and a pair of Lucchese boots after winning the LPGA VOA Classic on Sunday, July 4, 2021, in The Colony, Texas. Ko finished the tournament 16 under par. (Elias Valverde II/The Dallas Morning News)(Elias Valverde II / Staff Photographer)17/18Professional golfer Jin Young Ko lifts the winner’s trophy after winning the LPGA VOA Classic on Sunday, July 4, 2021, in The Colony, Texas. Ko finished the tournament 16 under par and one shot ahead of Matilda Castren. (Elias Valverde II/The Dallas Morning News)(Elias Valverde II / Staff Photographer)18/18Professional golfer Jin Young Ko lifts the winner’s trophy after winning the LPGA VOA Classic on Sunday, July 4, 2021, in The Colony, Texas. Ko finished the tournament 16 under par and one shot ahead of Matilda Castren. (Elias Valverde II/The Dallas Morning News)(Elias Valverde II / Staff Photographer)Costly hole: Esther Henseleit, in her second year on the LPGA Tour, began the day tied for second, only one shot out of the lead. The 22-year-old German will have some unhappy memories about hole No. 14. On Saturday, she hit two shots in her bare feet standing in a water hazard and made a bogey. On Sunday she had to take a drop from a cedar tree and took a double-bogey.No traction: Defending VOA Classic champion Angela Stanford’s final-round birdie total of four was unfortunately negated by four bogeys in an even-par final round of 71. The 43-year-old from Saginaw, a popular winner of the 2020 VOA in December, finished in a tie for 12th at 9-under.Stanford shot a third-round 65 on Saturday to close to within five shots of the lead, in a tie for fifth entering the final round. But a bogey on her first hole set the tone.Old American: The Tripp Davis-Justin Leonard design hosting the VOA for the fourth season had to deal with challenging weather events in the spring to make the course tournament-ready. The fourth hole, a 426-yard dogleg left par 4, played the most difficult at 4.24 strokes. The easiest is another hole bending left, the 499-yard par 5 No. 17 playing at 4.67.Notes: Cheyenne Knight of Aledo, the 2019 VOA Classic champion, and Celina’s Lindsey Weaver shot matching scores of even-par-71 in each of the first three rounds. Both broke par on Sunday, matching again with 1-under scores of 70 for a 283 total, tied for 47th…The Woodlands’ Stacy Lewis, winner of the second VOA Classic in 2014, broke par in all four rounds, shooting 70 on the final day to land at 9-under, tied for 12th…Farah O’Keefe of Austin, the only amateur to make the 36-hole cut, closed with a par round of 71 and shot even par for the week to land in a tie for 56th…Kentuckian Emma Talley, who had survived the cut in only three of 10 previous events, made a big leaderboard move with the round of the day, an 8-under 63. She birdied the last four holes to finish in a tie for fourth at 12-under.Find more golf coverage from The Dallas Morning News here.

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