Ko below best at Australian Open, ends third

FRED WOODCOCK
Last updated 20:26 16/02/2014
Lydia Ko
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THIRD PLACE: New Zealand's Lydia Ko couldn't quite reach the standards of Karrie Webb in the final round.

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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.

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- Fairfax Media

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