No. 1 Jin Young Ko rebounds from LA meltdown, shoots 64 to trail by one at Palos Verdes

Jin Young Ko recorded the first quadruple-bogey eight of her LPGA career last Saturday at Wilshire Country Club and then ballooned to a 75 on Sunday at the DIO Implant LA Open. She dropped from a share of the lead to outside the top 20 in rather shocking fashion.

But it’s a new week, and when the World No. 1 made the turn to the front nine at Palos Verdes on Thursday, it looked like vintage Ko. Six consecutive birdies on Nos. 2-7 gave her an opening 7-under 64 at the inaugural Palos Verdes Championship presented by Bank of America. She’s one shot off the pace of leader Minjee Lee.

“Before starting today’s round, I just remind you just golf is golf,” said Ko. “Do not think about last week. Starting again, new routine. Get the routine like step by step, and do not think about future. … Just feel my body and feel my mind and just enjoy. ”

Charley Hull, Moriya Jutanugarn and Jennifer Chang shot 65.

This marks the second consecutive week in the Los Angeles area for the LPGA. Lee said she took Monday off and did not come to the course. She played nine holes on Tuesday and saw the rest of the course in the Wednesday pro-am. Because the venue is so hilly, Lee said it’s important to keep her legs fresh.

Even though Palos Verdes is a new venue for the Australian, she did feel somewhat at home.

“My golf club back home is the same type of fairways,” she said. “I do not think we play a course with the same type of grass throughout the whole year, so it was kind of a nice surprise when I got here.”

Jin Young Ko of South Korea reacts after her putt on the 11th green during the first round of the Palos Verdes Championship Presented by Bank of America at Palos Verdes Golf Club on April 28, 2022, in Palos Verdes Estates, California. (Photo by Harry How / Getty Images)

A new kind of challenge also suited Ko, who looked to turn the page quickly on last week’s disaster.

“This week is so much different to last week,” said Ko. “This week is shorter than last week. Greens are really, really small this one, and we have to focus. Middle of the green is just like maximum 20 feet for putt.

“So, yeah, it’s kind of fun, this course. I’m enjoying. ”

Albane Valenzuela lost the Pac-12 Championship in a playoff at Palos Verdes and has fond memories of playing the Northrop Grumman Regional Challenge every year at Stanford. The 24-year-old opened with a 66, her best round of the season.

“I think I shot 5 under also as an amateur,” said Valenzuela. “I think really feeding off that good momentum that I had in college, all those good memories. I’m staying with one of my best friends this week, one of my college roommates, so all the good vibes always help. ”

Last season, Valenzuela said she hit it awful and scrambled to make pars to keep her card. This season, however, her ball-striking has been solid for some time.

“It’s kind of a different way of playing golf,” she said. “Now I’m finding fairways, hitting a lot of greens and just hitting it well. I just feel like I’m very calm, and I just trust my own game and really just commit to what I know how to do. ”

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