Golf: Kiwi teen Lydia Ko grabs first professional title in Taiwan event

TAIPEI (AFP) - New Zealand's teenage golf sensation Lydia Ko shot a three-under 69 for a total of 205 in Taiwan's Swinging Skirts World Ladies Masters tournament on Sunday, capturing her first title since turning professional in October.

The 16-year-old, who was just one shot behind world No.5 Ryu So Yeon after two rounds, ended three strokes ahead of the South Korean, who struggled with her putting on the back nine to end on 73.

"I certainly didn't expect to win in my second professional tournament. It's great to win here and it's a great tournament," said Ko.

"I wasn't really sure I would win until the tap-in on the 18th hole," she said, speaking of her tense race with Ryu to the finish.

Despite the pressure, she showed composure and maturity beyond her years, carding five birdies and two bogeys on the final round.

Ko, who collected US$150,000 (S$187,500), said a win in Asia meant a lot to her because of her ethnicity.

"I haven't had that many opportunities to play in Asia. I played a lot of tournaments in the States and in Australia, so it's great to have my first professional win here in Asia because my background is obviously Asian Korean," said Ko, who recorded five wins in professional tournaments as an amateur.

World No.1 Park In Bee carded a two-under 70 for a total of 209, which put her third.

Kim Hyo Joo and Baek Kyu Jung, both of South Korea, shot 68 and 72 respectively to finish tied for fourth place with an aggregate score of 213.

Taiwanese star Tseng Ya-ni, the former world No.1 who has won 15 career LPGA titles at age 24, collected five birdies on her first 13 holes, only to be set back by her lone bogey at the par-three 14th hole.

She shot 68 to tie for sixth place with Paula Creamer of the US, Korean KLPGT 2013 money winner Jang Ha Na and Sandra Gal of Germany.

A total of 95 players competed in the three-day event.