Ko hogs limelight with third win

Lydia Ko of New Zealand wearing an Arkansas Razorbacks hat in the shape of its trademark hog. The 19-year-old has now recorded her third victory of the year.
Lydia Ko of New Zealand wearing an Arkansas Razorbacks hat in the shape of its trademark hog. The 19-year-old has now recorded her third victory of the year. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

LOS ANGELES • Golf sensation Lydia Ko withstood a late stumble on the last hole on Sunday to record her third victory of the year by winning the LPGA Tour's NW Arkansas Championship.

The 19-year-old New Zealander has now won 13 times on the Tour before her 20th birthday, as she finished with a three-under 68 for a 54-hole score of 196 at the Pinnacle Country Club course.

American Morgan Pressel carded a 71 to tie for second with Chinese Taipei's Candie Kung (69) at 199.

World No. 1 Ko went into the par-five 18th with a comfortable four-shot lead but tried to lay up with a six-iron and put her ball into the water.

She blasted her next iron over the green but it hit the bottom of the grandstand and bounced back, leaving her with a somewhat tricky downhill putt from off the green. Ko then two putted for the win.

"It is not the greatest way to finish with a six," she said. "I hit the ball really well on the front nine."

Ko began the final round tied for the lead with Pressel. But it did not take long for her to make her presence felt, jumping out to a four-shot lead over the first five holes.

She had just one birdie and two bogeys on the back nine, which she attributed to the heat.

"I felt a little tired going into the back nine. The sun got to me a little," she said.

Ko had fun with the Arkansas crowd as someone gave her a University of Arkansas Razorbacks hat to wear on No. 17, the tournament's loudest and signature hole.

Pressel's chances of victory ended when she made four consecutive bogeys from No. 11 to No. 14.

Kung shot a 69 thanks to a late hot stretch. After bogeying two of the first four holes, she was error-free the rest of the way, making four birdies, including consecutive birdies on the last two holes.

Angela Stanford (65), Thailand's Moriya Jutanugarn (68), Germany's Sandra Gal (69) and China's Yan Jing (70) tied for fourth at 200.

World No. 2 Ariya Jutanugarn of Thailand tied for 44th at 207. She is the only other player besides Ko to record three victories in 2016.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 28, 2016, with the headline 'Ko hogs limelight with third win'. Print Edition | Subscribe