World No. 1 Jin Young Ko has a habit of winning after long breaks. Can she do it again this week in South Korea

Jin Young Ko returns to action on the LPGA this week for the first time since late August. Top-ranked Ko took time off to rehabilitate a nagging left wrist injury. While Ko is defending champion at this week’s BMW Ladies Championship, the event is being held at a new location: Oak Valley Country Club in Wonju, South Korea.

“I was not able to practice as much as I thought I would,” said Ko of her time away, “but when I did have the time to practice, I really focused on those sessions.

“I’m really into yoga these days, and I went to the yoga center learned yoga and that helped me train on my mental side. For the last two months, basically I’ve been kind of doing that, and I’m very happy to be in the competition.”

Six of the top 10 players in the world are in the field this week, including rookie Atthaya Thitikul (2) Minjee Lee (3), Lydia Ko (5), Nasa Hataoka (9) and Hyo-Joo Kim (10).

Ko said she took plenty of breaks while practicing to protect her wrist and also took part in acupuncture treatments.

“During the past five to six weeks while I was in Korea,” said Ko, “the weather was warm and so it wasn’t so painful, but today it got a little colder. The temperature is lower and the grass is firmer, so that may impact my wrist some. But I will not give up and I will continue to do my best.”

Last year, Ko won the CME Group Tour Championship while dealing with so much wrist pain that she couldn’t even warm up before each round.

Jin Young Ko kisses the winner’s trophy after the final round of the BMW Ladies Championship at LPGA International Busan on October 24, 2021 in Busan, South Korea. (Photo: Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images)

Ko has made a habit of coming out strong after long breaks from competition. She famously won her first LPGA start as a member at the 2018 ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open.

In 2020, Ko came back from an extended break during the COVID-19 pandemic to play her way into the CME Group Tour Championship in only four starts and win the season-ending title.

Last year, Ko skipped the AIG Women’s British Open to work on her swing and came back after more than a month away to win her first start back at the Portland Classic. She’d go on to win three more times to close out the season.

Earlier this year, Ko came back from an extended offseason to win her first start at the HSBC Women’s World Championship in March.

A 13-time winner on the LPGA, Ko last cracked the top five on tour in June at the U.S. Women’s Open. She’s been ranked No. 1 for 38 consecutive weeks and 144 total.

“I would be lying if I said that there was absolutely no pressure when it comes to maintaining that ranking,” said Ko, “but I have to say I am more interested right now in practicing because I want to be more satisfied with my golf instead of the title, the No. 1 player,” said Ko. “I’m surrounded by very talented players, though I never thought initially that ranking, that title was forever.”