Ko below best at Australian Open, ends third
The prestigious Australian Open title was there for the taking but Lydia Ko's short game, and in particular her putter, wouldn't let her grab it.
The 16-year-old New Zealand golfer had to settle for a share of third at Melbourne's Victoria Golf Club, her second successive top-three finish at Australia's flagship women's tournament after a solo third last year.
Most players struggled in tough conditions for scoring because of the wind and Ko, the world No 4, had a rare day in which she just looked like one of the pack.
She began the day at 11-under par and two shots off the lead but never got going in the co-sanctioned LPGA Tour, European Tour, Australian tour event worth $1.44 million.
Ko had three birdies, two three-putt bogeys and a messy double bogey in a one-over 73, a rare over-par round for the teenage star. Her 10-under tally was two shy of Australian great Karrie Webb, who won her fifth Australian Open.
Webb, 39, and still a top-10 player, showed her class with four-under 68 in the final round to get to 12-under, turning a five-shot deficit at the start of the day into a winning score as others went the opposite way.
South Korean Chella Choi was second at 11-under, with France's Karine Icher and American Paula Creamer sharing third alongside Ko.
The Kiwi was below her best, highlighted by a messy double bogey at the par-four sixth when she pulled her tee shot and up at the green hit from one greenside bunker to the other.
She clawed a shot back at the par-five eighth and, with the leaders faltering, she was one of nine players within a shot of the lead despite turning in one-over 37.
Normally so good in the clutch moments down the stretch, Ko's ball striking was reasonably solid but her putting briefly fell apart as she twice three-putted from short range, missing a two-footer for par at 10 and a three-footer for par at 13.
Not even a rare birdie at the tough par-four 11th could bring a smile to her face; that didn't appear to a closing birdie at the par-five 18th - just her third of the day - which got her into the top three.
Still, Ko has three top-10s from three starts in 2014, including a runner-up finish at the New Zealand Open, and she will be comforted by the fact that even below her best she was capable of contending on the LPGA Tour.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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