Lydia Ko second in NSW Open title defence

ADRIAN WARREN
Last updated 18:28 27/01/2013

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Sweden's Caroline Hedwall held off two of the world's finest teenaged amateurs Lydia Ko and Minjee Lee to win her second NSW Open women's golf title on Sunday.

Hedwall fired a final-round 68 to finish on 13-under par, two shots clear of defending champion and New Zealand's 15-year-old world No 1 ranked amateur Ko (69).

Australian amateur champion Minjee Lee (71), the No.3-ranked amateur in the world, stayed in contention until the 16-year-old incurred her first and only bogey of the tournament after 48 holes and finished on 10-under.

"It's always good when young players come up and battle with the older ones and I think it's fun," Hedwall said.

It was a repeat of the 2011 tournament in which Hedwall shaded the then 13-year-old Ko for first spot.

The tournament tilted in Hedwall's direction over the last two holes of a round played in steady drizzle.

The Swede edged a shot ahead with a par on the 17th hole which Ko bogeyed after her drive found the trees.

"I actually thought about the last time I was here two years ago, and Lydia was one up going into the last hole," said Hedwall, who earned A$18,750.

"I hit a great (tee) shot and set up for a nice birdie putt and took a lot of pressure off.

"I really enjoy those situations, I love being under pressure and that's what I practise for."

Hedwall, the highest-ranked professional in the tournament at No.39, bogeyed the par-four first but picked up three birdies before the turn and two more coming home.

After carrying her own bag for the previous two days, Hedwall had younger sister Jacqueline, who missed the cut, act as her caddie.

Caroline won four European Tour events in 2011 and another one last year after spending several weeks sidelined by injury.

Ko bogeyed the first two holes to drop three off the pace, but charged back into contention by picking up four stokes over three holes, highlighted by an eagle three on the sixth.

Birdies on the 11th and 14th pulled her level with Hedwall.

On the 16th, she pulled off a miraculous par when she was granted a drop in a bunker after her ball was deemed to be lying in casual water in the sand.

Ko fluffed her bunker shot, hitting it just a couple of metres out of the sand, but then chipped in.

"I was like 'oh my God maybe I could win this,"' Ko said.

"I think I got a little bit excited and a little bit tense in the shoulders and it (my tee shot on 17) went straight left."

With temporary contact lenses left back home, bespectacled Ko said she had huge problems in the steady rain.

"Every couple of holes I have to get them cleaned, I hope they make glasses like windscreen wipers in cars, I wished they had those."

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- AAP

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