Jin Young Ko is hoping for déjà vu, but it'll be an uphill battle to achieve that.
Last year, Ko won the CME Group Tour Championship – for the second consecutive time – while battling a wrist injury. The pain was bad enough that during Round 1 her caddie told her she could withdraw, but she stuck it out en route to victory.
Twelve months later, at the LPGA's season finale, Ko is again dealing with a wrist issue that's even worse than last year.
In a pre-tournament press conference ahead of her title defense at Tiburón Golf Club, the world No. 4 said her wrist is "not good." She was asked to rank her pain level on a scale of 1-10 (one being the worst) and Ko said, "seven or eight now."
Last month, the 27-year-old Korean opened the BMW Ladies Championship, her first event since late August, shooting 80 and carding a quintuple-bogey 10 on her last hole of Day 1. Then, following a second-round 79, she withdrew. On Tuesday of this week, Ko said the pain in her wrist in Korea was a "two or three."
Full-field tee times from the CME Group Tour Championship
She's been practicing a lot, she said, and feels pain on every shot. Ahead of the season finale, however, she's scaling back her practice ahead of tournament play, similar to last year.
"It's hard to think I'm fine like this because I know I'm painful here," she said. "So when I was gripping, I'm painful already from takeaway since my swing. It's hard, but only I can do just medicine and just tape on it. Just trying to play. Nothing to do."
Coming into 2022, Ko was the No. 1-ranked player in the world and in her first LPGA start of the year – the HSBC Women's World Championship – she won.
However, it's been a steady decline since, something Ko isn't used to as she's been one of the game's most dominant players for the past several years.
"It's first time to difficult situation in my life I have, but I think I need time like this because I need to think myself," she said. "Last few years I played really well ... I (didn't) have much time to think myself."
To help regain her health, the reigning LPGA Player of the Year is considering blood-spinning treatment (platelet-rich plasma injections) in the offseason. Though she said, "I heard it's really painful, so I'm worried." Ko added that she feels she put herself in this position by overworking.
"I'm worried about my wrist, how long this takes," she said. "This is my fault because this is my body. I didn't (take) care of my body."
But with only one more event this year, Ko will "tough it out" while aiming for a CME Group Tour Championship three-peat. With her injury making that unlikely, though, Ko hopes the adversity she faced this year sets her up for a dominant 2023.
"Hopefully, my swing or my games are getting better for next year, next season," she said. "So I'm ready to practice already before next season."