Ko crowned NZ Women's Open winner
Brilliant teenage amateur golfer Lydia Ko has fended off the challengers to win the New Zealand Women's Open today.
The 15-year-old New Zealander has claimed a one-shot victory after closing with a four-under par 68 at the Clearwater Golf Club in Christchurch, finishing at 10-under par for the 54-hole professional tournament.
Ko and American Amelia Lewis were tied at 10-under with one hole to play but Lewis, playing in the penultimate group, missed a four-footer for par to three-putt the 18th.
That left Ko needing par to win and she duly obliged, finding the green with her approach shot from the right rough and two-putting to become to first New Zealand winner of the national women's open.
"It was a pretty good day out there and I'm pretty excited to have my name on this trophy," she said, admitting to tears as she walked off the 18th green.
"I didn't cry at the Canadian Open so I've got no idea why I cried here, I guess it meant more.
"It's our national open so to win it means a lot. I'm not the sort of person who shows expression or feelings that much but I guess I did here."
The victory, in the co-sanctioned event between the European and Australian tours, is the world No 1 amateur's third professional win in the last 13 months.
She won the Australian tour's New South Wales Open and the LPGA Tour's Canadian Tour last year.
The field this week was not as strong as Canada, but it still contained 32 LPGA Tour members and Europe's finest professionals.
And with the added pressure and expectation that came from being her home open, this win can't be underplayed.
A huge crowd followed the New Zealander throughout her round and there was a massive roar when Ko nonchalantly slotted a three-footer for par at the 18th.
"Even if I was eight metres left people were still clapping. Everyone supported us the whole way, not only me but the other players as well."
Ko started the final round in a share of the lead and quickly went ahead with a birdie at the first. She bogeyed the par-four third but it was full steam ahead from there, with birdies at the fourth, sixth, 10th and 15th.
There were two birdie misses from inside six feet on the back nine that could have been costly as Lewis, who finished with a 66, took the lead at one point.
But Ko nailed a short birdie at the 15th to draw level again and holed a clutch six-footer for par on the 17th to maintain a share of the lead, before Lewis opened the door with her mishap on 18.
Ko walked straight through it and into the history books, yet again.
- © Fairfax NZ News