Ko claims Lotte C’ship to end three-year LPGA title drought
LOS ANGELES: Lydia Ko ended her three-year LPGA title drought in impressive style on Saturday, firing a final-round 65 to win the Lote Championship by seven strokes.
Former world number one Ko, a two-time major champion, didn’t put a foot wrong as she notched her 16th LPGA title but her first since the 2018 Mediheal Championship.
The New Zealander’s 28-under par total of 260 at the Kapolei Golf Club in Oahu, Hawaii, put her seven in front of South Korea’s Park In-bee and Kim Sei-young, Ireland’s Leona Maguire and American Nelly Korda.
Ko took a one-shot lead over Korda into the final round, but as the American struggled on the greens Ko marched relentlessly to victory.
She pushed her lead to two with a four-foot birdie at the third hole, then saved par from the front fringe at the fourth before taking firm control with four birdies in a row at the ninth, 10th, 11th and 12th.
She added birdies at 14 and 17 for good measure, admiting that there had been times during her long, highly scrutinized dry spell that she wondered if the victories would come again.
“There were times that I would think ‘Hey, I don’t know if I’ll ever be back in the winner’s circle,” said Ko, the former teen phenomenon who is still a week shy of her 24th birthday.
Near misses at the Gainbridge LPGA and the ANA Inspiration didn’t necessarily ease her concerns, Ko said, noting that “when you’re in that position and it doesn’t happen, you do doubt.”
Relaxed and smiling throughout much of the round, Ko was clearly emotional ater her final put dropped on 18.
“I just continued to stick to my game plan, and I think this kind of proves it to myself and that’s the biggest thing,” she said.
‘It was her time’
Korda, seeking a second victory of the season ater beating Ko by three strokes at the Gainbridge LPGA, could not apply the same pressure on Ko that she did on Friday. With the puts not falling, she was one-over on the front nine ater a bogey at the eighth and trailing by four at the turn.
She followed a birdie at the 11th with back-toback bogeys at 12 and 13, birdies at 14, 15 and 17 pushing her back into a share of second.
“You know, I’m happy with a second finish,” she said. “You never complain finishing second in a tournament. Let a lot out there, but Lydia played so well. It was her time.”