Ko goes 76 holes to win marathon

Lydia Ko.
Lydia Ko. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

In play-off, she finishes off Lee and Ariya with a birdie the fourth time they played 18th hole

LOS ANGELES • New Zealand teenager Lydia Ko earned her 14th career LPGA Tour title at the Marathon Classic on Sunday, defeating Ariya Jutanugarn and Lee Mi Rim on the fourth extra hole.

The world No. 1, with trademark composure, won her fourth play-off in her five attempts.

She birdied the fourth extra hole while Ariya had a par and Lee made bogey. They recorded pars through the first three holes as they continued to play the par-five 18th until the three-way tie was decided.

"I think we were all getting a little bit physically and mentally tired as we were continuing to play the same hole," said Ko who, with her second Marathon crown in three years, has four titles this year.

"I just tried to keep being patient. Just seeing a putt drop for birdie kind of got my emotions going.

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    Number of play-offs that Lydia Ko has won, proof of her clutch play.

"I'm not really a huge fist pump kind of person, but it's probably the biggest fist pump I've ever done."

The 19-year-old will be confident with her Major form, heading to the Women's British Open at Woburn Golf Club in England next week.

This year, she won the ANA Inspiration, finished second in the Women's PGA Championship and third at the US Women's Open.

She shot a two-under 69 for 14-under 270 as she rallied to catch the leaders on Sunday and earn a play-off with Lee (65) and Ariya (68) at the Highland Meadows Golf Club course in Sylvania, Ohio.

South Korean Kim Hyo Joo shot a 73 to finish alone in fourth at 13-under 271. American Stacy Lewis closed with a 71 to place fifth while Recari Beatriz and Alison Lee tied for sixth at 274, four strokes adrift.

Ko started the final round at 12-under, three shots back from leader Kim in a tie for second with Alison Lee. Besides her four birdies she had two bogeys and 12 pars.

Lee fired a six-under 65 after starting the final round seven strokes off the lead.

Ariya trailed by four heading into Sunday. She said she usually got nervous in play-offs but was getting better at playing under pressure.

"It's really nice for me to have a chance in a play-off," she said.

It marked the second time in two years that it has taken extra holes to determine a Marathon winner. Last year, Chella Choi needed just one play-off hole to beat rookie Jang Ha Na and earn her first US Tour victory.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 19, 2016, with the headline 'Ko goes 76 holes to win marathon'. Print Edition | Subscribe