A winner is crowned at the Cognizant Founders Cup

Story posted May 15, 2023 in CommRadio, Sports by Amanda Vogt

CLIFTON, N.J. – For the third time and third course, Jin Young Ko is the winner of the Cognizant Founders Cup.

In 2019 she won when it was still played in Phoenix, and in 2021 once the event made the east coast move, she was victorious at Mountain Ridge Country Club.

Heading into the week Ko only had initial aspirations to “make the cut and just finish top 10 or 20.” In 2022 she tied for 17th and simply said her play “wasn’t good.”

This time around, 72 holes were not enough as Ko needed a playoff to defeat Minjee Lee who was the 54-hole leader.

Starting the round four back, Ko birdied holes three and four to put early pressure on Lee.

“This morning I watched a highlight that was Sung-Jae Im, he’s PGA Tour player. He played Korea tournament this week and he won,” Ko said. “He was five shots behind the lead and he made it to win, so that was inspiring me.”

On the 6th hole, Lee’s tee shot found the water and she double bogeyed which put the lead in Ko’s possession momentarily.

Back and forth the two went on the hardest scoring day of the week. The average score was 74.394 — two shots higher than the previous round and the wind was gusting the entire day.

Ko focused on her own game throughout and typically “[doesn’t] look at the scoreboard [and doesn’t] think about the other players.”

Before bogeying the 16th and moving back to -13, Lee had a two-shot lead. A last-chance birdie putt from Ko on 18 gave her a share of the lead, and as Lee parred out, a playoff was needed at Upper Montclair Country Club.

“I heard the roar when Jin Young birdied 18 so I knew I was probably going to be tied,” Lee said.

Even though she didn’t get the result she hoped to successfully defend her title, she believes that she “still played really solid today and throughout the whole week” being that this is only her fifth event of the season.

After tapping in the winning putt, Ko reveled in her moment of victory and was soon showered with champagne.

“This golf course is not easy,” Ko said. “But I shoot really, really good and, yeah I feel really good and it’s an honor to get third trophy Cognizant Founders Cup.”

This marks her second victory of the season and 15th in her career. With the $450,000 winner's paycheck, she surpassed the $11 in career earnings and moved into the top 20 on the career money list.

Regardless, Ko still believes there is more work to do in order to feel her game is truly at her best.

The next tournament she will compete in is the Mizuho Americas Open, but until then she is headed to Texas to work with her coach.

“My shot was fine this week but I didn’t feel comfortable,” Ko said. “We are going to practice together and he will make me better than the last three weeks.”

While it wasn’t the easiest win of her career, she is definitely proud of the finish and “can’t wait to play next near.”

Throughout the entire week, she had a swarm of people following her throughout her rounds and she is grateful for the support: “They make me cheer up for the four days so I really thank all my fans.”

Amanda Vogt is a first-year student majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact her, email her at aev5215@psu.edu