Ko picks up second major

World No. 1 Lydia Ko jumps into Poppie's Pond after winning the ANA Inspiration at Mission Hills Country Club. The New Zealander followed up last year's Evian Championship victory with this win to make her the youngest golfer in 147 years to hold two
World No. 1 Lydia Ko jumps into Poppie's Pond after winning the ANA Inspiration at Mission Hills Country Club. The New Zealander followed up last year's Evian Championship victory with this win to make her the youngest golfer in 147 years to hold two Major titles. PHOTO: REUTERS

Teenager sinks crucial putts to clinch ANA win as Thai Ariya fumbles the last 3 holes

LOS ANGELES • New Zealand's Lydia Ko became the youngest player to win two LPGA Majors when she birdied the par-five 18th to clinch the ANA Inspiration by one stroke in Rancho Mirage, California, on Sunday.

For the 18-year-old world No. 1, who closed with a three-under 69 at the Mission Hills Country Club to finish at 276, the win marked her second successive Major title after winning the Evian Championship last year.

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 British Open for the second time in 1869.

"It was always my dream to play on the LPGA. Just being here was a dream come true," said Ko, who started the day one behind third-round leader Lexi Thompson.

"For these amazing things to be happening is unbelievable but it also motivates me to work harder."

  • Other landmarks

    • Youngest Major champion in LPGA history (18 years, four months and 20 days old) with her win at last year's Evian Championship in France.

    • Youngest player in LPGA Tour history to reach 10 wins (18 years, six months and one day old); beating Nancy Lopez (22 years, two months and five days old).

    • Youngest winner in LPGA history, winning the 2012 Canadian Women's Open aged 15 years, four months and two days old.

Britain's Charley Hull (69) and South Korea's Chun In Gee (70) finished a stroke back. Thailand's Ariya Jutanugarn (71) led late on but bogeyed the final three holes to finish two strokes off the pace.

The season's first Major looked headed for a play-off when Ariya's bogey at the par-three 17th, where she pulled her tee shot badly, set up a three-way tie for the lead.

But Ko, who was coming off a win at last week's Kia Classic, secured her 12th LPGA Tour victory by striking a precise wedge from 88 yards to set up a one-foot birdie putt.

Following her triumph, the New Zealander took the traditional leap into Poppie's Pond next to the 18th green along with her mother Tina Hyon, sister Sura Ko, caddie Jason Hamilton and his fiancee.

The South Korean-born Ko was bogey-free for the final round and made several crucial putts to stay in the hunt, including a pair of long birdie putts on the front nine and a solid par-save on the 13th to stay two shots behind Ariya.

"This has been a long week," she said. "I'm proud I was able to make those clutch putts, especially on the back nine."

Ariya, 20, made a red-hot start to her quest for a maiden LPGA Tour win as she carded five birdies and one bogey over her opening 11 holes.

But the Thai was undone by a disastrous finish that saw her three-putt at the 16th, send her tee shot at the 17th into a bunker before finding water on the 18th.

American Thompson (73) finished three shots behind Ko in fifth place, while defending champion Brittany Lincicome (74) ended 10 shots off the pace. World No. 2 Park In Bee (68) tied for sixth at 280.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 05, 2016, with the headline 'Ko picks up second major'. Print Edition | Subscribe