LOS ANGELES (AFP) - World No. 1 Lydia Ko clinched the second major of her career on Sunday with a dramatic victory at the ANA Inspiration after a late collapse from Thailand's Ariya Jutanugarn.
The 18-year-old New Zealander held her nerve to conjure up a superb birdie on the 18th hole at the Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage, California, to complete back-to-back major wins.
Ko's three-under-par 69 left her at 12 under for the tournament, one clear of England's Charley Hull and South Korea's Chun In-Gee.
Ariya, who had led by two shots with three to play, finished with bogeys on the 16th, 17th and 18th to end on 10 under.
Ko is the youngest woman ever to win two majors following her victory last September at the Evian Championship.
She is the youngest golfer of either sex to win two majors since Young Tom Morris, who was aged 18 years, four months and 27 days when he won the Open in 1869.
"I just wanted to enjoy playing on the tour," a delighted Ko said afterwards. "Just being in this position is a dream come true. For these things to be happening is unbelievable."
The teenager marked her win by taking the now traditional leap into Poppie's Pond, the water hazard surrounding the 18th green.
But it was an agonizing finale for Ariya, the 20-year-old from Bangkok. Ariya's dream of a first major unraveled in a nerve-ridden climax that saw her post back-to-back bogeys on the 16th and 17th before a final bogey on the 18th.
Ariya's problems began on the par-four 16th, when a poor approach left her a long putt after reaching the green in two. A nervous first putt left her a 12-footer to make par, which she missed for bogey to leave her only one shot clear.
Ko meanwhile maintained the pressure at the 17th, making a difficult putt to save par and stay hard on Ariya's heels. Yet the pressure clearly had got to Ariya, who dragged her tee shot on the par-three 17th into the left-side bunker.
Her subsequent wedge rolled off the edge of the green and her putt to save par flew past the hole. The bogey had suddenly given Ko a share of the lead and she then rammed home her advantage on the par-five 18th.
Opting to lay up, she nailed a majestic third shot to within a few feet for a simple birdie that took her to 12 under, one shot clear.
With Ariya's composure in tatters, the Thai could only bogey the last and Ko had sealed victory, the 12th LPGA tournament win of her career.