New Zealand's Lydia Ko rewrote golf's record books as despair turned to delight on the 18th green at Oatlands today.
A year after she three-putted to gift Caroline Hedwall a one stroke victory in the NSW Open, the ultra-talented 14-year-old found redemption as she won her first ALPG tour title - and in doing so became the youngest woman ever to win a professional tournament.
The North Harbour teenager, by way of South Korea, held playing partner Lindsay Wright at bay over the third and final round to supplant Amy Yang at the top of the leader board of junior golfing prodigies with a commanding four shot victory.
Yang, a South Korean whose talent was nurtured on Australia's Gold Coast, was 16 years and 192 days old when she won the 2006 ANZ Ladies Masters as an amateur.
Ko now holds that accolade as the youngest winner of a tournament sanctioned by the world's five recognised women's golf tours.
Her composure down the stretch today in Sydney echoed her triumph in the Australian amateur championship in Melbourne last weekend and continues her superb start to the 2012 season.
The world's top-ranked amateur held a four-shot advantage over Wright when they teed off and although the Australian occasionally trimmed the margin to two a clinical Ko's ensured there was no repeat of last year's disappointment.
While she laid the platform for her success with a superb eight-under 64 yesterday, Ko was a picture of consistency today as she covered Wright's every move before the Australian slipped to a share of third with compatriot Kristie Smith.
Wright replicated Ko's opening nine yesterday by reeling off five birdies before the turn in a bid to pressure on the little right hander but she held her nerve to card a bogey-free three-under 69.
She finished 14-under the card on 202; Becky Morgan of Wales was the eventual runner-up after her six-under 66 enabled her to tally 206 - a shot clear of the Australian duo.
A birdie on the 15th and Wright's bogey on the next effectively confirmed Ko's victory, allowing her to relax on the 18th and relegate those putting yips to a distant memory.
After acknowledging the acclaim, the quietly-spoken Ko was delighted with her achievement.
"Making history is amazing, I'm pretty speechless," she said.
Ko had no explanation for her stunning start to 2012.
"I've got no idea. Last year was such a good year and if this year is as good as it was last year it will be amazing."
There is little respite for Ko as she tackles a busy three-month schedule on either side of the Tasman.
Her next assignment is the Australian Women's Masters at the Royal Pines Resort on the Gold Coast starting Thursday and then she heads back to Melbourne for the Australian Open at Royal Melbourne from February 9-12.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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