Lydia Ko wins LPGA Tour's Marathon Classic
MURRAY HILLS AND DUNCAN JOHNSTONE
New Zealand golfer Lydia Ko has become the youngest woman to reach US$1 million (NZ$1.15m) in prizemoney after winning a tournament on the LPGA Tour in Ohio today.
The victory, at the Marathon Classic, was her fourth on the LPGA Tour since turning professional in April.
The 17-year-old was the dominant force today in the final round of the US$1.4m (NZ$1.6m) tournament at the Highland Meadows club.
She started the day in fifth place, two shots off the lead, but fired a six-under 65 to finish 15-under and hold off fast-finishing Korean So Yeon Ryu.
Ko, the world No 2, picked up three birdies on the front nine and three on the back nine in a faultless round under pressure.
Ryu, who had tied Ko at 14-under with a long birdie putt on the 17th, struck problems with a wayward tee shot on the par-five 18th hole. She missed a birdie opportunity to force a playoff.
It was a nervous wait for Ko as she was in the playing group ahead of Ryu and had to watch her rival finish from the fringe of the 18th green.
"My heart was beating. Ryu was in great form today and she had a big chance to make that putt and for us to go to a playoff," Ko said.
The Kiwi was aware of Ryu's charge over the last few holes.
"I knew I had to make a birdie [on the 18th]," Ko said.
"I hit the ball really well and gave myself a lot of opportunities. That's what you have got to do. The greens are quite small here so if you hit the greens you kind of have a good chance."
Ko's final round included birdies on the third, fourth and eighth to be out in 31, with three more birdies including a clutch one on the par five 18th. Ryu's challenge came on the back nine with birdies on the 12th, 13th, 16th and 17th.
Ko finished with rounds of 67, 67, 70 and 65 for a total of 269 - 15 under par. She had started the final round two shots behind the overnight leaders, South African Lee-Anne Pace and American veteran Laura Diaz who were both at 11 under par.
Pace and Diaz both faded in the final round. Two bogeys in the first five holes derailed Diaz's challenge, while Pace couldn't get anything going and her chances ended with back to back bogeys on 14 and 15.
The best round of the day came from France's Karina Icher who closed with three straight birdies for an eight-under par round of 63.
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