Lydia Ko becomes fifth LPGA woman to earn $17M, wins Tournament of Champions

After Lydia Ko ended 2023 winless on the LPGA Tour, she opened her 2024 season with a bang. She earned her 20th career win at the Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions at Lake Nona Golf and Country Club, her home course.

In doing so, she became just the fifth woman in LPGA history to earn more than $17 million during her illustrious career.

Coming into Sunday, Ko held a slight lead over Alexa Pano. She carded a 2-under 70 to get to 14-under and win by two over Pano. But the tournament was never really in doubt in the final round, as Ko was in complete control.

This week showed a different side to Ko as she looked like her old self. The New Zealander went bogey-free on Friday and Saturday to give herself momentum.

On Sunday, she recorded four birdies and two bogeys, including one on the 18th for a stress-free finish.

Ko started her 2024 season prep at the beginning of January. With this event at her home course, it was important to her.

“There were definitely nerves, but a little less just because it is my home course,” Ko said. “To see so many of the members come out and clap and cheer me on, I think that was the best part of this week.”

She became the just 15th LPGA member to record 20 career victories. This feat also means she is one point away from qualifying for the LPGA Hall of Fame.

“I thought two was close, and now one is really, really close,” she said. “I’m right in front of the door. I think my mindset was, ‘Hey, I’m going to do all the things I can do and try and do a good job of that.’ If it happens, it happens. If not, just not meant to be in the Hall of Fame.”

Despite being so close to this historic feat, Ko wants to keep the same mindset she always had.

“To give myself a better chance of it now after winning this week is really cool, but hopefully nothing changes internally,” Ko said. “Try and play and continue to play solid golf and see where that puts me.”

Lydia Ko, Jason Day, Grant Thornton Invitational

Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images

She may not have won a sanctioned LPGA event in 2023, but Ko did win the unsanctioned Aramco Saudi Ladies International, presented by the Public Investment Fund. Ko also won the Grant Thornton Invitational with Jason Day in December.

Last year showed a lot of ups and downs for Ko, but that victory with Day gave her momentum heading into the new year. There is a short turnover for the 26-year-old as she will tee it up in Bradenton, Fla., next week for the LPGA Drive On Championship.

Savannah Leigh Richardson is a golf staff writer for SB Nation’s Playing Through. For more golf coverage, be sure to follow us @_PlayingThrough on all major social platforms. You can also follow her on Twitter @SportsGirlSL and Instagram @savannah_leigh_sports.

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