Lydia Ko Secures Emotional First LPGA Title in Two Years
It was a 21st birthday to celebrate, as Lydia Ko carried on the positive vibes of that milestone to secure her first victory on the LPGA Tour since 2016 at the Mediheal Championship in California.
Having been a teenage phenomenon – who broke a succession records to dominate the world rankings – the New Zealander’s past two seasons have been overwhelmed by a revolving door of changes, both in the caddying and coaching departments. This uncertainty has led to much discussion in the game, but in claiming her 15th title on the circuit, Ko will now feel validated and that a fresh era has begun in what has already been a remarkable career.
Making birdie on the last – having narrowly missed on an eagle after a typically superb chip shot – the two-time major champion found herself in a playoff with former amateur sensation, Minjee Lee. Back to the par five 18th tee, and the past world number one displayed her quality with an incredible three-wood approach that finished just three feet from the hole.
To her credit, Lee scrambled to make a superb birdie, forcing Ko to hole out for the win, which she duly accomplished, leading to an outpowering of emotions after what has been a comparatively challenging period for a player whose ascent was once limitless.
What a way to finish! Lydia Ko just locked up her first LPGA win since 2016! pic.twitter.com/52rCEnxogS— Golf Channel (@GolfChannel) April 30, 2018
“It's crazy because I was three-over for the day at one point,” Ko said. “I said 'hey, you've just got to focus you never know what could happen' - and I was able to kind of put my game together on the back nine.
“When that putt dropped I was like 'Oh my God'. A lot of emotions, my whole team and my family have worked really hard for this moment.”
Sweden’s Alexander Bjork produced a spectacular bogey-free 65 on Sunday to win his maiden title on the European Tour at the Volvo China Open. Coming just a week after he finished third at the Trophee Hassan II, the 27-year-old carried that positive form into the event at Topwin Golf & Country Club.
Without a blemish on the card, Bjork finished at 18-under, one shot better than Spain’s Adrian Otaegui, Jordan Smith and Matt Wallace and Jorge Campillo tying for third place, but it was the 2016 Challenge Tour graduate who finished triumphant, after finishing 43rd on the Race to Dubai last season, he is now sitting at ninth of this year’s ranking.
“It’s tough to describe the emotions,” Bjork said. “I’m really, really happy. I’m really proud of myself, the way I played today. It’s probably one of the best rounds of golf I’ve ever played. Probably the best round because of the situation, didn’t make pretty much no mistakes today, so I’m super happy.”
Former FedEx Cup winner Billy Horschel and Scott Piercy were victorious in the unique team formatted Zurich Classic of New Orleans after posting a final round of 67 in foursomes.
The pair edged into the lead after combining for birdies at the 10th and 11th, not relenting the position from there, finishing at 22-under for the week, one ahead ahead of Jason Dufner and Pat Perez. The South African duo of Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel finished in third at 20-under, while Tommy Fleetwood and Chris Paisley paired up to finish in a tie for fourth alongside Brice Garnett and Chesson Hadley.
Horschel and Piercy each earned $1.04 million and 400 FedEx Cup points for their victory, but world ranking points won’t be applied for the triumph.
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