Ly­dia Ko makes his­tory!

EVIAN-LES-BAINS, France (AP) -- Ly­dia Ko be­came the youngest ma­jor cham­pion in LPGA Tour his­tory at the Evian Cham­pi­onship on Sun­day Septem­ber 13th.

Ladies GOLF - - News -

Ly­dia Ko won the Evian Cham­pi­onship, the first ma­jor of her ca­reer (69/69/67/63, -16). With this vic­tory, she be­comes the youngest ma­jor cham­pion player to win a women’s ma­jor, aged 18 years, 4 months and 20 days. The world num­ber 2 played bril­liantly, fin­ish­ing with an 8th birdie on the 18th and could not quite be­lieve it her­self. It rounds off a fan­tas­tic sea­son for young Ly­dia which in­cluded three LPGA wins be­fore The Evian Cham­pi­onship.

A tour­na­ment that she will re­mem­ber for­ever; she now has a spe­cial link with Evian. Af­ter be­ing the top am­a­teur in his­tory here in 2013 (run­ner-up), she claims the fi­nal ma­jor of the sea­son and her first, the one she longed for. The South Korean-born New Zealan­der closed with an 8-un­der 63 for a six-stroke vic­tory over Lexi Thomp­son at the fi­nal ma­jor of the sea­son. She eclipsed the pre­vi­ous record set by Amer­i­can Mor­gan Pres­sel, who was 18 years, 10 months and nine days old when she won the 2007 Kraft Nabisco Cham­pi­onship. Ly­dia, who was run­ner-up in Evian two years ago, en­joyed a re­mark­able day on the shores of Lake Geneva, stay­ing bogey-free and hit­ting eight birdies in her fi­nal round for the best score of the tour­na­ment this year. She fin­ished with a 16-un­der to­tal of 268.

Mi Hyang Lee, who had an overnight lead of one stroke over Lexi, crum­bled un­der pres­sure and fin­ished tied for fourth place, nine back. Chi­nese Shan­shan Feng was third with an 8-un­der to­tal of 276.

“Ev­ery­one won’t be ask­ing me when I’ll win my first ma­jor be­cause it’s done,” said Ly­dia, who was two shots off the pace head­ing into the fi­nal round. Ly­dia has been break­ing records even be­fore she turned pro­fes­sional two years ago.

Tipped as a fu­ture great of the game, she was al­ready the youngest win­ner on the Tour af­ter her win at the Cana­dian Women’s Open in 2012, and the youngest player of ei­ther gen­der to reach the No. 1 spot when she did it ear­lier this year.

On a damp but dry morn­ing, she kept her cool when Lexie Thomp­son got off to a fly­ing start.

Ly­dia, Lexie Thomp­son and and Mi Hyang Lee were grouped to­gether af­ter or­ga­niz­ers de­cided play­ers would tee off on the first and 10th tees in three­somes fear­ing ex­pected bad weather would play havoc with the sched­ule. The elite trio started with a par on the first hole be­fore Lexie set a tremen­dous early pace with four birdies in her first seven holes. The Amer­i­can con­verted a long putt for birdie on the par-3 2nd then played a three-hole stretch in 3-un­der. She couldn’t stay bogey-free on the front nine, though, miss­ing a putt from close range on the par-3 8th.

Ly­dia en­joyed a clin­i­cal start and was one shot be­hind Lexie at the turn, with three birdies on Nos. 3, 7 and 9.

The Kiwi golfer then hit a won­der­ful 2nd shot on the par-4 11th that landed on the edge of the green and rolled to within ten feet of the cup, bring­ing out a big smile on her face and loud cheers and ap­plause from the spec­ta­tors. Her next shot - a gutsy down­hill birdie-putt - found the hole to draw level with Lexie at 12 un­der.

That shot sig­naled a swing in the mo­men­tum.

Ly­dia came close to an ea­gle on No. 12 but her ball hit the flag­post and bounced, stop­ping within five feet of the hole. Ly­dia made no mis­take with her next putt and moved one shot clear at the top of the leader­board with six holes left to play. She capped her day in style with con­sec­u­tive birdies on Nos. 17 and 18.

For Lexie, things took a turn for the worse on the par-3 14th. She landed her drive on a rough patch be­hind the green and a poor re­cov­ery shot left her fum­ing as she hit the grass twice with her club and set­tled for a dou­ble bogey that sealed her fate.

The pres­sure of play­ing for the first time in her ca­reer in the fi­nal group was too much of a bur­den for Mi Hyang Lee. She had a big slip-up on the par-4 3rd, where she ended with her first dou­ble bogey of the week. Af­ter mis­judg­ing her sec­ond shot into wa­ter be­hind the green, she hit a very good chip to re­turn to the green but the penalty stroke se­ri­ously dam­aged her hopes of clinch­ing a first ma­jor. Back-to-back bo­geys on the par-3 8th and par-5 9th con­tin­ued to undo the good work put in dur­ing her three pre­vi­ous rounds.

Tied for third place two shots off the pace af­ter the third round, Mor­gan Pres­sel had two birdies and six bo­geys for a 4-un­der to­tal of 280 that saw her drop to a tie for 11th place.

Be­low: Ly­dia Ko with Franck Ri­boud and Jaques Bunert

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