Following her tie for 20th at the 2023 KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, Jin Young Ko remains at No. 1 in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings for the 159th week in her career. Ko has now outlasted Lorena Ochoa’s record of 158 weeks at Rolex Rankings No. 1, which Ochoa held consecutively from April 2007 to May 2010.
Ko has held the No. 1 position five different times since April 2019. With her sixth consecutive week since May 2023, she now sits on top of the record list ahead of notable names including Lydia Ko (125 weeks), Yani Tseng (109 weeks), Inbee Park (106 weeks) and Annika Sorenstam (61 weeks).
Weeks at No. 1
Jin Young Ko
Sung Hyun Park
So Yeon Ryu
Jin Young Ko only one of five Koreans at the top of the world rankings
At 27 years old, Ko has the most career weeks at Rolex Rankings No. 1 by a player from the Republic of Korea. She is one of five Korean players to hold the No. 1 position, alongside Inbee Park (106 weeks), Jiyai Shin (25 weeks), Sung Hyun Park (20 weeks) and So Yeon Ryu (19 weeks).
“It’s an honor people saying with Lorena and me in the same sentence. It makes me happy, but also it makes me humble,” said Ko, who has had Ochoa’s long-time caddie Dave Brooker on her bag for most of her time at Rolex Rankings No. 1. “It’s great to honor, to stand with Lorena.”
In 2023, Ko has claimed victories at the HSBC Women’s World Championship and the Cognizant Founders Cup. In addition, she has four top-15 finishes this year, most recently at the inaugural Mizuho Americas Open, and represented the Republic of Korea in this year’s Hanwha LIFEPLUS International Crown.
She currently ranks third in greens in regulation (75%), fifth in scoring average (69.34) and sixth in birdies (140) on the LPGA Tour for the 2023 season. In addition to being the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings No. 1, she also sits on top of the leaderboard in the Race to the CME Globe, an honor she previously won in 2020 and 2021.
Jin Young Ko’s achievements
A 15-time champion on the LPGA Tour, Ko has captured major titles at The Chevron Championship and Amundi Evian Championship in 2019. Just a year prior, she became a Rolex First-Time Winner at the 2018 ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open in her first event as an LPGA Tour member. Before her career on the LPGA Tour, she won 10 times on the KLPGA Tour and won the LPGA Tour’s 2017 LPGA KEB-Hana Bank Championship as a non-member.
Ko won Rolex Player of the Year in honors in 2019 and 2021 and was the 2018 Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year. In 2019, she won the Vare Trophy, which is given to the player with the season’s lowest scoring average. That same year, she also won the Rolex ANNIKA Major Award, which is given to the player with the season’s best overall performance in major championships.
Langer, a two-time Masters Champion, will bid to capture The Senior Open Presented by Rolex for a fifth time next month, with two of his four victories having come at Royal Porthcawl.
Jiménez, a 21-time DP World Tour winner, is looking to win the Major for the second time in his career after clinching victory at St Andrews in 2018, where he finished one shot ahead of Langer.
Langer loves the Senior Open
Langer, a former World Number One with 42 DP World Tour wins to his name, made history at Royal Lytham & St Annes in 2019 as he secured his fourth Senior Open title, overtaking Gary Player and Tom Watson who have both won the Championship three times.
His triumph four years ago was his 11th Senior Major Championship, the most of anyone in the history of the game, and he also set a new milestone as the oldest player to win a Senior Major at the age of 61.
The German picked up his second and third Senior Open titles at Royal Porthcawl in 2014 and 2017 respectively, and he is hoping to complete the hat-trick when he returns to the renowned Welsh links in July.
“I have such fond memories of Royal Porthcawl in 2014 and 2017 and I cannot wait to try and win the Senior Open for the fifth time and third time at this amazing venue,” he said.
“This Senior Open Presented by Rolex is one of the highlights of the year and I am really excited to return to the UK to play in July.
“Royal Porthcawl is one of the best golf courses in the world and one that will test every aspect of your game. I’m relishing the challenge and hopefully I can put on a show for the Welsh crowds again.”
Jimenéz back to where he made his Senior Open debut
Jiménez, a two-time Ryder Cup winner, has two Senior Major titles to his name following victories at the Regions Tradition and Senior Open in 2018, and the Spaniard is relishing the opportunity to add to his back catalogue when he tees it up for the ninth time in this prestigious event.
“Royal Porthcawl will always be special to me because I made my Senior Open debut there in 2014,” he said. “The feeling of winning the Championship in 2018 is something I will never forget and I am incredibly excited to have that opportunity again next month.
“I’ve got some great golfing memories in Wales, including my win at the Wales Open in 2005 and our Ryder Cup victory in 2010 and I’m hoping to make some more this year.”
The duo will join already-announced former Ryder Cup Captains Thomas Bjørn, Colin Montgomerie, José María Olazábal, Darren Clarke, Pádraig Harrington and Ian Woosnam as a star-studded field assembles in South Wales.
Royal Porthcawl is a third time Senior Open host
Royal Porthcawl was founded in 1891 as a nine-hole course before an agreement was made four years later to add another nine holes. In 1909, the club was bestowed the honour of using the prefix Royal – only the second club in Wales to be granted the privilege after Royal St David’s – before hosting its first significant championship in 1951 when The Amateur Championship took place.
This year will mark the third time the venue has hosted The Senior Open Presented by Rolex, with Langer winning in 2014 and 2017. His win in 2014 was by a Championship-record 13 strokes. Northern Ireland’s Clarke will defend his title in South Wales this year, having claimed his maiden Senior Major at Gleneagles in 2022.
Tickets for The Senior Open Presented by Rolex are on sale now, with prices starting at just £25 for adults for championship days. Season tickets, giving holders access to all four championship days plus the Wednesday practice day, are available for only £95. Click here to purchase yours.
Sun Mountain, the market leader in premium golf bags, has added a splash of colour to its bestselling Club Glider Meridian and updated Kube travel covers to offer even more choice across its popular golf luggage range aimed at making travel a seamlessly easy task.
Sun Mountain: New colors and exciting designs
Sun Mountain designers have also upgraded the hardwearing protective shell on the compactfolding Kube bag to provide a more striking modern look. Offering a great option for golfers with limited storage space at home, the latest colourways include Sand/Camouflage; Concord/Plum/Violet; Spruce/Harbour/Ochre; Navy/Blue/Cadet and Steel/Black/Rush Red.
“The Sun Mountain travel covers for this season will appeal to all travelling golfers looking for a high-quality and long-lasting product that really stands out from the crowd.”, said Nigel Freemantle, Managing Director of Brand Fusion International, the exclusive distributor of the brand in Europe. “The premium golf luggage bags have become world reknowned for making travel so much easier and these colourful designs elevate the latest range to another level.”,he added.
The ClubGlider from Sun Mountain
Providing exceptional manoeuvrability from leaving the front door to arriving at the final destination, the Club Glider Meridian is constructed from robust ballistic-style nylon and dense foam padding to deliver added protection and keep belongings safe.
The pioneering design features pivoting caster wheels and an exclusive folding leg mechanism that can be extended and retracted in one easy motion to fully support the weight of the bag and eliminate excessive bending and lifting. It has an RRP of £299.
The Kube Travelcover from Sun Mountain
The Kube folds down smaller than most aircraft cabin bags (23x33x38cms) and weighs little more than 3kg. It features a rubberised pull and carry handle, easy glide wheels for seamless transportation, plus a reinforced padded club head area offers greater protection for golf clubs when travelling.
Two internal pockets allow for extra clothing or equipment to be added, while two external and two internal compression straps nothing moves around during transit. The KUBE cover has an RRP of £219.Sun Mountain 2023 Travel Bag Range – 2 Completing the collection is the Club Glider Journey (£239) made from durable 1200 denier polyester for a more lightweight build and the ClubGlider Tour (£299) model constructed in vinyl for an individual look.
For those seeking more space when travelling with a staff bag or two mid-sized stand bags, the ClubGlider Pro (£349) is a perfect option. For more information on the Sun Mountain travel bag collection, plus golf stand and cart bags, visit www.brandfusion.co.uk.
Originally, golf was not on our agenda when preparing our trip. For I had not known that golf was played in the country, whose Arab tribe of Hashemites goes back to the great-grandfather of the Prophet Mohammed.
I only became aware of this through the huge urban future project ‘Ayla’ in the city of Aqaba on the Gulf of the same name. In 2008, construction began on a super-modern holiday destination, including the Ayla Golf Club. It is located in the pulsating Ayla Oasis, the great impressions of which we will review at the end of our round trip.
But before that, we will visit Amman, Jerash, Bethany, Mount Nebo and Madaba, whose visits would be worth a separate report. From there we continue to the thousand-year-old rock city of Petra.
The early morning walk through The Siq, a narrow path surrounded by rock walls up to 90 m high and leading to Al-Khazneh/The Treasure House of the Nebateans, is a top highlight of our visit. Close behind ranks Ad Deir /The Monastery which requires further climbing up the valley almost 900 steps through Petra and rising up 200 m in altitude, offering breathtaking views.
Those who do not dare to make the walk through the gorge or the ascent alone can enlist the help of experienced four-legged professionals.
The overnight stay in a tented camp in the middle of the desert and the balloon ride over Wadi Rum are equally unforgettable.
We feel transported to the great scenes of the films ‘Lawrence of Arabia’, ‘Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade’, ‘The Martian’ and ‘Dunes’ which were filmed here, and still feel the desert sand on our skin and the bumpy tours on the back of the Bedouin pickup trucks.
Relaxation on the Gulf of Aqaba
After pillars, temples, rocks and sand, the sea calls. The coastal city of Aqaba is located in Jordan’s extreme south on the Red Sea, close to the border crossing with Israel. Its seaport is the only one in the country and the gateway to the rest of the world.
Aqaba is a free trade zone and has more than 150,000 inhabitants. It is located at the northernmost tip of the Gulf of the same name, a branch of the Red Sea, and is bordered on its western side by Israel and the Sinai Peninsula and on the eastern side by Jordan and Saudi Arabia.
Surrounded by turquoise sea
We spend a few relaxing days at the five-star Hyatt Regency Aqaba Ayla Resort, which is located just over four kilometres from the centre of the port city. It is surrounded by bright blue lagoons with water from the Red Sea and has 286 modern rooms and 43 suites.
All have a balcony or private terrace with a great view of the marina or the imposing, majestic mountains. Our Standard Bedroom on the 4th floor has purpose-built furnishings and offers beautiful views down to the golf course.
Hotel amenities include the La Plage Beach Club on the lagoon, a large relaxation area with infinity pool set amidst the perfectly maintained gardens, a luxurious Aqua Spa with Hammam, a gym and tennis courts.
Guests can choose between international and regional dishes in five restaurants and bars; we recommend them all! (alcohol is served to foreign guests in all of them).
Wi-Fi is free of charge and works well in the public areas, at the pool and in the beach club, and in our room most of the time.
The service of the staff is attentive and unobtrusive and fortunately we can communicate very well in English.
The resort has been awarded global Green Key Eco status in the hotel category, recognising its efforts and commitment to public health and sustainable environmental standards in tourism. These are felt throughout the resort, which is exceptionally clean and well maintained.
Staying at the pools and the hotel’s own stretch of beach on the lagoon in our customary swimwear is fine in this country, which is dominated by Islam. Local women wear a black suit that covers the entire body, including the head with only a small section left free for the face, hands and feet.
No fear of the great white shark
Just a few kilometres outside the resort are fantastic snorkeling and diving opportunities, where you can gaze at a variety of fish in the crystal clear waters. Sharks, such as the harmless giant whale shark, are also said to occur here.
We also encounter one of these species at Ayla Golf Club, as its designer is none other than Greg Norman, known as the ‘Great White Shark’. He designed the 18-hole par 72 championship course in 2016, which spreads over an area of 800,000 square metres and is harmoniously integrated into the original desert landscape.
A par 3 9-hole floodlit course and a Golf Academy with PGA-qualified pros and excellent practice facilities complete this comprehensive golf offering.
In harmony with nature
Specific requirements were given to the world-renowned company, Greg Norman Golf Course Design (GNGCD), to ensure the design interfered as little as possible with the environment and to comply with ecological aspects. The Ayla Oasis area, contaminated with over 60,000 mines from the Six-Day War in 1967, was first completely cleared and the golf course was built with excavated soil from the huge lagoon landscape.
Several artificial lakes and wadis were created that are fed by rainwater from the surrounding mountains mixed with lagoon water and serve as reservoirs for irrigation and act as stopovers for migratory birds, complementing the natural ecosystem. Most of the electricity is provided by solar panels.
Early bird tee time
The hotel shuttle takes us to the nearby clubhouse in five minutes. We start early in the morning, as in May, it is already 25 degrees at 7.00 a.m., though the heat is easily bearable due to the low humidity.
The wind that comes up during the round does not interfere with the game, but we find it blissfully cooling as the temperature rises.
Offering up fantastic views of the mountain scenery beyond, the open, mildly undulating course measures 7,152 yards from the back black tees. The fairways are gently curved but if you don’t find them, huge sandy waste areas await though in most cases you can play out of these quite easily. Water hazards come into play on half of the holes. Both fairways and greens are seeded with Paspalum grass, which is ideal for high temperatures.
Five different tee boxes offer on all 18 holes makes it amenable for all HCP classes.
Good conditioning in all areas
Its layout is most appealing, the conditioning well maintained. The grass of the fairways has some yellow patches at the moment as it is still in partial hibernation. We hit the countless, fairly deep bunkers more often than we would like, but since most of them are under renovation during our visit and marked as GUR, we continue playing without a penalty stroke. Those completed are boast gleaming fine, white sand.
There is nothing to criticise about the quality of the partly large, fast greens. They are true to track and a pleasure to play. Not only the course, but the entire facility is very well maintained, thanks to a team of 50 greenkeepers who do an excellent job. All the paths are paved and easy to negotiate with a buggy.
We are almost alone on the course and enjoy the relaxed atmosphere in the club, which currently has 120 members of the 400 players that exist in Jordan. As we learn from the friendly, South African Head Pro, Jason, about 5,000 green fees are currently sold per year. They would like to increase this moderately through targeted marketing measures and contribute to the Ayla Oasis developing more and more into an attractive, internationally recognised sporting and golf destination.
The Mena Tour, for example, has already made a stop here. In 2019, the Jordan Mixed Open was held for the first time, a tournament format in which players from the European Challenge Tour, the Staysure Tour and the Ladies European Tour took part under the motto ‘We share the same drive’.
In 2022, the idea was taken up of hosting the Jordan Open Golf Championship, in which men, women and juniors from 14 countries compete for victory.
We enjoy the fair course with its varied holes and undisturbed play.
An award-winning clubhouse
Just as impressive as the course and its practice facilities is the clubhouse with its extraordinary design. Paying homage to the Bedouin architectural heritage. Renowned architectural firm, Oppenheim Architecture & Design, designed the structure from undulating concrete in an organic, contemporary style.
Ahlan wa sahlan
We feel extremely welcome and safe at all times throughout our journey. Everywhere we are warmly welcomed and well looked after. The decision to take a trip organised by a tour operator with an experienced guide was spot on. Our guide studied in Germany and with his extensive knowledge gave us deep insights into the Arabic religion, culture and history, which we would never have been able to discover on our own in such a short time. If necessary, I will be happy to establish the relevant contacts.
In spring and autumn, Jordan is a great travel destination that now also offers golfers a new, attractive alternative, but coming here just to play golf would not do justice to the Arab country with its extensive range of offers. We were thrilled by the combination of culture, unique landscapes, well-appointed hotels, gastronomic delights and getting to know the Ayla Oasis with its superb golf course.
Project Ukraine, an initiative created by nine women from The R&A’s Women in Golf Leadership Programme, is thrilled to announce the return of its second coaching camp. Building upon the success of last year’s camp, Project Ukraine aims to support young Ukrainian golfers affected by the continuing war in Ukraine.
After witnessing the devastating impact of the war on her homeland, Veronika Rastvortseva, a participant from last year’s cohort, was inspired to rally a group of eight determined women from the Women in Golf Leadership Programme to do something to help young Ukrainian golfers. Together, they organised a highly successful coaching camp at the Macdonald Cardrona Hotel Golf & Spa in Scotland, hosting seven talented golfers from the Ukrainian Golf Federation.
Project Ukraine: Camp for 13 young golfers
This year’s camp will welcome 13 young golfers from the Ukrainian Golf Federation who will come from across the world, having fled the war, as well as from Ukraine itself.
The camp will take place from 26th June to 1st July and will be hosted by MacDonald Portal Golf and Spa Resort. The coaching camp will deliver an engaging programme designed to enhance the skills of the young golfers and provide them with memorable experiences. The activities will include:
A trip to the Betfred British Masters: The young golfers will have the opportunity to witness top-level golf at the British Masters tournament, gaining inspiration from the world’s best players.
Coaching by top quality coaches: Golf coaches will provide expert guidance and training, helping the young golfers refine their techniques and improve their games.
An event with local juniors: A special golf event will bring together members from Portal Golf and Spa Resort and junior players from Hill Valley Golf Club. This event will provide a competitive and fun opportunity for participants to showcase their skills and enjoy the camaraderie of the golfing community. In the evening, a raffle will be held to raise further funds for the project.
Ample practice opportunities: The camp will offer plenty of practice time for the young golfers to refine their skills and showcase their talent.
PING are supporting the project by providing golf equipment and clothing.
Project Ukraine brings hope
Veronika, from Project Ukraine, shared her thoughts on the impact of Project Ukraine, “As someone who has witnessed the devastating effects of the war in my homeland, I am truly grateful for the opportunity to support young Ukrainian golfers through Project Ukraine. This initiative has the power to bring hope and change lives.”
Jackie Davidson, Director of Golf Development at The R&A, said, “We are pleased to support Project Ukraine for a second year. This initiative is important in so many ways and aligns perfectly with our mission to develop and enhance the game of golf globally. We look forward to seeing the positive impact it will have on these talented young golfers.”
Since last year’s camp, Project Ukraine has been able to support young Ukrainian golfers by providing them with training, coaching, golf club membership and access to competitions to help them continue to grow their talent.
Some of the inspiring girls and boys who have received support include:
Artem Sokolov, a 17-year-old golf prodigy from Kyiv, Ukraine, has undergone an incredible journey of overcoming adversity amidst war. Despite facing numerous challenges, including being displaced from his home and golf club, Artem remains determined to pursue his passion for golf. He credits Project Ukraine, an initiative aimed at supporting Ukrainian junior golfers, for giving him hope and support during these trying times. “Five days in Scotland was a start of some good changes in my life, bringing me some hope. I had some great time there, saw my friends from the national team, it was like in our ‘old times’ – ‘before the war times’. I felt like I am a kid again,” says Artem.
Artem’s goals have evolved, and he now aspires to become a professional golf coach, with the intention of returning to Ukraine after the war to train children in the sport. Artem’s resilience and determination are a testament to the strength of the human spirit in the face of adversity.
Yeva Kolobova, a 15-year-old member of the Ukrainian National Golf Team, has faced unimaginable challenges and upheaval due to the war in Ukraine. Despite the destruction of her local golf club and the need to evacuate her home, Yeva has found hope and support in Project Ukraine, to help young Ukrainian golfers continue pursuing their dreams. Yeva shares her gratitude for the assistance she has received, stating, “I am very grateful to all of you for such impressive assistance and support! Project Ukraine has given me hope for the future and the realisation that Ukrainians are not alone in their hardship.”
Now living near Reading, England, under the Homes for Ukraine programme, Yeva has been able to regain her form and continue her golf journey with the support of Project Ukraine. With her handicap significantly reduced and regular practice at The Caversham Club, Yeva is working towards her goal of enrolling in an English college with a golf team. Despite the adversity she has faced, Yeva remains determined to ensure her golf story has a bright and successful future.
Ivan Malovychko, a 22-year-old golfer from Kharkiv, Ukraine, has gone from living under the constant threat of war to studying at Edge Golf College in Portugal. A four-time champion of Ukraine, Ivan began his golf career at the Junior Golf Academy at the Superior Golf Club in Kharkiv. “Golf is a special game, it taught me a lot. It’s not just a game, when you hit the ball once your life will never be the same again… I love this game with all my heart” says Ivan.
After living through weeks of bombings and moving to western Ukraine, Ivan received a life-changing call that led him to study at Edge Golf College. There, he found a supportive community and honed his skills, despite the challenges of being away from his family and having to renew his permit every month. Ivan dreams of returning to Ukraine and using golf to help people recover psychologically from the ongoing conflict. Currently, he is preparing to compete in the Team Shields championship and looks forward to reuniting with his friends and teammates.
“Studying at Edge Golf College has had a tremendous impact on my life. The support and encouragement I’ve received here have not only helped me grow as a golfer but also as a person. I am grateful for the opportunity to develop my skills and pursue my passion in such a nurturing environment”.
15-year-old Grynenko Oleksandr, a talented golfer from Kharkiv, Ukraine, shares his harrowing experience of how COVID-19 brought him back to his country just in time to witness the invasion. “It’s a strange feeling when you realise that if the war had started a few hours later, I would have been in a safe place in Turkey,” says Grynenko. Despite the challenges, he continued to pursue his passion for golf, participating in competitions across Europe and focusing on rebuilding his physical fitness amidst the ongoing conflict.
Grynenko’s biggest dream is to return to his hometown, but with schools closed and his home golf club partially destroyed, it is not possible at the moment. His main goal in golf is to achieve a “0” handicap, and he is currently preparing to take part in the European Young Masters and Team Shields championships this summer. For the first time, Grynenko will be attending the Project Ukraine camp, he hopes that the camp will help him gain new experiences, improve his golf skills, and reunite with friends from the national team.
For individuals or companies interested in making a donation of more than £5,000, please contact Jennifer Hedge, Philanthropy Manager at The R&A directly. For further questions, visit the R&A Philanthropy Support website.
The funds raised will assist these young individuals in pursuing post-secondary education in a golf-related management programme, pursuing a career in golf, or continuing to play golf competitively.
Join us in making a difference in the lives of young Ukrainian golfers. Your support will have a lasting impact and contribute to the growth of the game in Ukraine.
If you would like to find it more or how you can get involved and support Project Ukraine, please get in touch via [email protected]
(Written by R&A, 12 June 2023, St Andrews, Scotland)