KAPOLEI, Hawaii (AP) – Lydia Ko is golfing like a kid again. In other words, she’s tough to beat. No one came Golf Club and tournament records in the process. A final-round 65 Saturday left her at 28-under 260 and seven shots ahead of everybody. It brought back vivid memories of the teenager from New Zealand who became the youngest golfer – female or male – to rise to No. 1 in the world in 2015. She is the LPGA’s youngest-ever major winner, Rookie, and .to this week’s Lotte Championship. Ko torched Kapolei
Ko, who turns 24 next Saturday, won 14 times in her first 81 starts, including twice as an amateur in 2012 and ’13. But she had only won onceago – until Saturday. “When it doesn’t happen, you doubt,” Ko said. “If I said I didn’t doubt myself, it would be a lie. I wondered if I’d ever be back in the winner’s circle, but I’m grateful for all that’s happened in my career.
“It’s been a fun week in Hawaii, and being back in this position is super cool.”
Ko came up three strokesof 31 under. That was set by Sei Young Kim, who finished tied with Inbee Park, 22-year-old Nelly Korda, and Irish rookie Leona Maguire at 267.
Park and Kim, both from, are ranked 2-3 globally,d, and Korda is fourth. Kim six years ago, while Maguire was amidst a brilliant college career at Duke.
Park, who vacationed in Hawaii as a child, now has five Top-Five finishes at Lotte but no wins. With her 63, she shared low-round honors Saturday with Jenny Shin.
. That was set at Ko Olina Golf Club, which hosted Lotte for its first eight years.
It wasn’t a huge surprise. In Ko’sago, she closed the ANA Inspiration, the year’s first major, with a 62. In her last 100 holes, she has just one bogey. Korda struggled early, and when Ko missed a long birdie putt at No. 8, she was three shots ahead. That flipped a switch.
She was flawless again. She birdied the next four holes and six of her last 10. Low rounds were common this, but no one came close to catching Ko, who tried to “keep it simple” and admitted she was inspired by Hideki Matsuyama and Jordan Spieth’s recent wins. “I think I was putting a lot of pressure on myself, and I know there were expectations,” Ko acknowledged. “I slept great last night. I just said, ‘Hey, my fate is already chosen.’ I’m just going to I can today. I hung in there.”
Ko’s $300,000 first prize pushes her to over $11.5 million in her career.
“I think it’s great on her,” Park said. “She definitely had her really good times and struggled in the middle, and comingstrong like this is great to see.”
Canada’s Brooke Henderson, who won the last two Lotte championships, finished 27th.
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