NAPLES, Fla. – Tears welled up in Lydia Ko’s eyes on the 18th green Sunday as she wrapped up a monumental comeback season. Soon after, she wrapped her arms around a tall, slender man wearing black and khaki, who wiped tears of his own. This marked the first time Jun Chung had seen his soon-to-be-bride win in person. Most of their golf together is casual, with dinner on the line or a fun dare.
Chung, son of Ted Chung, vice chairman and CEO, Hyundai Card, Hyundai Commercial, works in finance for Hyundai and has a home in San Francisco. Because of the pandemic, they were pen pals for six months before meeting for the first time. Shortly after, Ko broke a three-year victory drought in Hawaii. Friends started calling him her good-luck charm. His presence in her life, however, brought a lot more than luck.
Ko’s older sister and manager, Sura, said that she could tell a significant difference in Lydia after Jun came into her life.
“Since she met him,” said Sura, “she finds her own peace.”
That peace translated to bona fide comeback season, with Ko winning for a third time on the LPGA in 2022 at the CME Group Tour Championship, collecting her second Rolex LPGA Player of the Year Award and second Vare Trophy for lowest scoring average in the process.
And, after a record $2 million payday at the CME Group Tour Championship, she also clinches the LPGA money title with $4,364,404. That’s $591 shy of Lorena Ochoa’s all-time record in a single season.
“He puts a smile on my face,” said Ko, now a 19-time winner on the LPGA. The couple will marry Dec. 30 in Seoul.
Ko came into the final round tied at 15 under with Leona Maguire, five shots clear of the field. Maguire took the lead early as Ko bogeyed the first hole on a blustery, overcast day at Tiburon Golf Club.
By the time they made the turn, the standing had flipped, with Ko on top by a stroke. After both made shocking bogeys on the par-5 14th, with each finding the hazard, other players popped into the conversation. As Anna Nordqvist posted a final-round 67 to get to the clubhouse at 14 under, Ko hit the gas, making birdies on Nos. 16 and 17 to pull two clear of the field. She closed with a 70 to finish at 17 under.
“Lydia is a class act,” said Maguire. “She always is. She was really steady, really solid. She obviously putts phenomenally well, so any time she got a chance, she took it, and that’s what you have to do.”
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