Creditable British Open finish for Lydia Ko
In most golf tournaments, weekend scores of 76 and 78 would result in an almighty tumble down the leaderboard.
But those scores for teenage New Zealand star Lydia Ko were par for the field as the vast majority of players struggled across the final two rounds of the Women's British Open at Hoylake, near Liverpool, today.
The 57 players who made the cut were forced to complete the final two rounds today, with the second round on Friday having been abandoned, and the treacherous conditions were matched only by the scoring.
Ko battled hard, with a four-over 76 followed by a six-over 78 as she dropped from a share of sixth after two rounds to finish in tie for 17th in the field of 144, a highly credible result for the 15-year-old prodigy.
To highlight how tough scoring was in the afternoon, Ko's 78 saw her drop only three places after starting the final round in 14th.
With a total of nine-over 297 (72-71-76-78), the world's top-ranked amateur also claimed the trophy for the best-performed amateur, finishing two shots ahead of England's Holly Clyburn.
''Lydia is stoked, that was by far the hardest course and hardest conditions she has played in, and to come away with the amateur medal is a small reward and especially to beat the European amateurs who are accustomed to these conditions," Ko's coach and caddie Guy Wilson said from the haven of shelter after the tournament.
''It was definitely gruelling. We didn't even have a break for lunch after 18 holes because they were trying to finish before dark so it was 36 holes on the trot. By the end we were spent.
''The course was so difficult, the wind was playing so much havoc on the greens and the pins were in difficult positions. The course was set up for failure."
Only the winner, Jiyai Shin of South Korea, who produced a simply astounding week of golf, finished under par. She finished at nine-under after rounds of 71 and 73 today to win by nine shots from compatriot Inbee Park, who was even-par. American Paula Creamer was third at at one-over.
Ko was on the first page of the leaderboard after the first two rounds - she was one-under - but with driving rain and strong winds at Hoylake, there were plenty of bogeys on offer and not many birdies.
The New Zealander was four-over through six holes in her third round but bounced back nicely to play the remaining 12 holes in even-par (two birdies and two bogeys) for a respectable 76.
It was another rough start in the fourth round and she would record her only score worse than bogey for the week, with a triple-bogey seven at the 14th, but the youngster showed plenty of steel to birdie two of her final three holes for a 78 and secure a top-20 finish.
In her second major championship, Ko bettered the T39th on debut at the US Women's Open in June. She finished as the top amateur in both tournaments.
Ko will remain in Europe to represent New Zealand at the world amateur teams championship, the Espirito Santo Trophy, in Turkey later this month.
She'll then return to Auckland to prepare for end-of-year school exams - she's a straight As student, by the way - but not before reflecting on a brilliant four-month overseas campaign, which has seen her become the second-youngest winner in the 117-year history of the US Amateur Championship, the youngest ever winner of a LPGA Tour professional event, at the Canadian Open, and the top amateur at the US and British Opens.
- © Fairfax NZ News