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Golf: Ko clinches first LPGA title as No. 1; Thai teen Ariya takes third

Lydia Ko, 17, outlasted Amy Yang to win her first LPGA title as World No. 1. Photo: AFP.

Lydia Ko, 17, outlasted Amy Yang to win the Women’s Australian Open at Royal Melbourne. Photo: AFP.

February 22, 2015: Lydia Ko secured her sixth LPGA title and first since becoming World No. 1 as the Kiwi teenager held off Amy Yang to win the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open in Melbourne.

 

Ko, 17, closed with a two-under-par 71 at Royal Melbourne Golf Club for a nine-under total of 283, two shots clear of 25-year-old Yang (72), who started the final day a shot behind both the New Zealander and Thai teenager Ariya Jutanugarn. Ariya (76) finished third on four-under.

 

Ko proved too good for a field featuring only three other top-10 players – Feng Shanshan (No. 4), Ryu So-yeon (No. 7) and Karrie Webb (No. 9) – but only after emerging the victor in a day-long duel with Yang, who was playing in the flight in front of her.

 

“I had a shaky start so that kind of got me more nervous. I came back with a pretty awesome eagle and that kind of settled down my nerves. I was playing with Ariya who was playing really good golf and Amy was right in front and I could see that she was making a lot of birdies,” Ko said.

 

“It kind of made me a bit anxious because I wasn’t making a lot of birdies, but I tried to keep my mind together and it ended up being great.”

 

Ko won her second title in her last four LPGA events, as she consolidated her position as World No. 1.

Ko won her second title in her last four LPGA events, as she consolidated her position as World No. 1.

Teenagers Ko and Ariya, playing together in the final flight, both bogeyed the opener to drop into a share of the lead with Yang. The Korean briefly took the lead with a birdie on the 304-yard par-four third before Ko responded with an eagle on the same hole, holing out with a 60-metre wedge for a one-shot lead.

 

Yang, who lived in Australia from 15 to 18, bogeyed seven to fall a further shot behind, but a birdie on nine and a Ko bogey on eight meant the pair were level on seven-under after the front nine. Ariya had dropped off the pace with bogeys at six and seven.

 

After an 80-minute delay due to a storm warning, Yang pushed on with a tap-in birdie on the par-five 10th before Ko again responded with a birdie on the same hole. The World No. 1 then moved ahead with a 20-foot birdie putt on 12, with Yang drawing level on nine-under with a birdie on 14.

 

20150222_Golf-LPGA-Australia_Lydia-Ko-stats_300x551However, with the finish line in sight and the pressure on, Yang missed short par putts on 15 and 17 to fall two behind while Ko stayed strong with four closing pars to earn a first LPGA title since clinching last year’s season-ending CME Group Tour Championship, meaning she has won two of the circuit’s last four events.

 

“I think patience was probably the biggest factor today. Here, there are so many putts that can be so close, but then end up being a couple of feet by and you look back and think, ‘how did I make that bogey?’ But it’s kind of easy to do,” Ko said.

 

“It’s hard to make birdies, but so easy to make bogeys or worse. I think just patience, that’s what I tried to have. I was talking to David [Leadbetter] yesterday and he said, ‘Lydia, you’ve just got to have that patience and just wait for the birdies to come’.”

 

Ko will miss the upcoming Honda LPGA Thailand to play in the New Zealand Open on the Ladies European Tour, but will face the world’s best at the HSBC Women’s Champions in early March, with all of the current top 10 signed up to start in Singapore.

 

Ariya, 19, enjoyed another strong performance in her rookie season, adding a third to an 11th-place finish in Florida and a playoff loss in the Bahamas. Korean trio Chella Choi (72), Lee Il-hee (71) and Jenny Shin (69) shared fourth on two-under.

 

For Q&A with Lydia Ko (published February 16), visit: http://sport-asia.com/ko-leader-teen-queen-says-consistency-key-to-being-worlds-best/

 

ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open (LPGA/LET), Royal Melbourne GC, Australia

283 – Lydia Ko (NZL)  70 70 72 71
285 – Amy Yang (KOR)  73 70 70 72
288 – Ariya Jutanugarn (THA)  69 71 72 76
290 – Il Hee Lee (KOR)  68 82 69 71, Jenny Shin (KOR)  76 71 74 69, Chella Choi (KOR)  72 75 71 72
291 – Julieta Granada (PAR)  73 72 70 76, Charley Hull (ENG)  71 71 76 73, Paz Echeverria (CHL)  71 76 71 73, Ha-Na Jang (KOR)  71 69 76 75, Minjee Lee (AUS)  76 71 72 72
292 – Jessica Korda (USA)  72 71 75 74, Kyu-Jung Baek (KOR)  77 72 71 72, Mika Miyazato (JPN)  73 74 74 71, Gwladys Nocera (FRA)  71 73 74 74
293 – Marianne Skarpnord (NOR)  75 72 73 73, Katherine Kirk (AUS)  72 73 70 78, Beatriz Recari (ESP)  75 71 72 75, Karrie Webb (AUS)  73 78 71 71
294 – Pernilla Lindberg (SWE)  76 74 71 73
295 – Sydnee Michaels (USA)  73 76 73 73, So Yeon Ryu (KOR)  77 74 71 73, Shanshan Feng (CHN)  74 74 74 73, Beth Allen (USA)  78 71 70 76, Tiffany Joh (USA)  72 75 76 72, Melissa Reid (ENG)  71 74 75 75
296 – Mo Martin (USA)  77 73 72 74, Laetitia Beck (ISR)  78 71 73 74, Catriona Matthew (SCO)  74 74 72 76
297 – Marion Ricordeau (FRA)  72 73 76 76, Marina Alex (USA)  72 77 73 75, Mina Harigae (USA)  75 71 73 78
298 – Ssu-Chai Cheng (TPE)  76 73 77 72, Amy Anderson (USA)  77 72 77 72, Holly Clyburn (ENG)  73 75 75 75, Katie Burnett (USA)  74 75 78 71
299 – Mi Hyang Lee (KOR)  75 70 76 78, Alena Sharp (CAN)  70 78 75 76, Sarah Kemp (AUS)  77 73 77 72, Mariajo Uribe (COL)  72 76 79 72
300 – Kelly Tan (MYS)  74 73 75 78, Rachel Hetherington (AUS)  73 78 71 78, Min Seo Kwak (KOR)  70 81 75 74
301 – Karine Icher (FRA)  75 73 79 74, Kylie Walker (SCO)  75 73 77 76, Nikki Garrett (AUS)  79 72 74 76, Lisa Mccloskey (USA)  75 76 76 74, Anne-Lise Caudal (FRA)  75 75 76 75, Chloe Leurquin (BEL)  75 75 77 74, Ayako Uehara (JPN)  72 75 78 76, Alison Walshe (USA)  74 75 77 75, Ai Miyazato (JPN)  73 75 77 76, Cheyenne Woods (USA)  74 75 80 72
302 – Christina Kim (USA)  74 71 81 76, Sophie Walker (ENG)  73 76 78 75, Maria Mcbride (SWE)  74 77 74 77, Min Lee (TPE)  72 78 81 71
303 – Kristy Mcpherson (USA)  75 76 77 75, Maria Hernandez (ESP)  75 74 80 74, Ju Young Park (KOR)  73 78 79 73
304 – Wei Ling Hsu (TWN)  78 73 80 73, Na Yeon Choi (KOR)  74 74 73 83
305 – Kendall Dye (USA)  78 71 80 76
306 – Christine Wolf (AUT)  75 72 78 81
307 – Rebecca Artis (AUS)  72 77 80 78
308 – Karlin Beck (USA)  74 77 77 80, Ann-Kathrin Lindner (GER)  78 73 79 78, Garrett Phillips (USA)  74 77 79 78, Amy Boulden (WAL)  77 74 77 80
309 – Kris Tamulis (USA)  75 76 82 76, Brooke Pancake (USA)  71 78 83 77
310 – Mallory Blackwelder (USA)  75 75 78 82
312 – Christel Boeljon (NED)  76 73 82 81

 

Results: Ladies European Tour (ladieseuropeantour.com)

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