Tue, Aug 28, 2012 - Page 20 News List

LPGA: Kiwi Ko becomes the youngest ever LPGA champion

AFP, VANCOUVER

New Zealand’s Lydia Ko is doused with water by fellow players after winning the LPGA Canadian Women’s Open in Coquitlam, Canada, on Sunday.

Photo: Reuters

New Zealand’s Lydia Ko became the youngest champion in the history of the LPGA Tour on Sunday by firing a five-under 67 to capture the Canadian Women’s Open by three strokes.

South Korean-born Ko finished the 72 holes on 13-under 275 at the Vancouver Golf Club course to beat Park In-bee by three shots.

“I just came to make the cut and play the best,” Ko, 15, said. “I won and I’m going to get the trophy, and it’s amazing.”

The fifth amateur winner, Ko is also the first since JoAnne Carner captured the Burdine’s Invitational in 1969.

Ko is 16 months younger than Lexi Thompson, who held the previous age record at 16 years, eight months. Thompson set the mark when she won the Navistar Classic last year.

Ko was born 11 days after Tiger Woods won his first Masters in 1997.

She finished five strokes ahead of South Koreans Choi Na-yeon, Shin Ji-yai and Chella Choi, who finished in a tie for third place at eight-under 280.

Taiwan’s world No. 1 Yani Tseng shot a 74 to finish tied for 35th place with a one-over 289.

Earlier this year, Ko won the New South Wales Open in Australia at 14 to become the youngest player to win a professional tour event. Ko also won the US Women’s Amateur two weeks ago in Ohio.

Ko pulled away with birdies on five of the first six holes on the back nine.

Because she is still an amateur, Ko does not get to collect the US$300,000 prize money.

Asked what she would do with the money if she could keep it, Ko said she would buy a dog.

“I have always wanted a dog, but we don’t have anyone to care for it,” Ko said. “So maybe I would use it to get a dog.”

She said she would also donate half of any windfall to “people who are in need of money.”

She showed the maturity of a seasoned champion on Sunday, routing the field with her best round of the tournament.

Ko moved with her family to the Auckland area when she was six years old. Her gallery included a contingent of South Korean expatriates and Kiwi fans.

Playing in the final group with Stacy Lewis of the US and Shin, Ko got off to a strong start by making birdie on the second and sixth holes.

On the back nine, Ko took off. She helped seal the victory by making birdie on four straight holes, beginning on the 10th. She got to 14-under with another birdie on the 15th.

Ko made bogey on the par-four final hole, but it did not matter, because she had a big enough lead.

There are no immediate plans for Ko to turn professional. She wants to finish high school, then play college golf first.

“I’ve come to realize it doesn’t matter,” she said. “When I turn pro, I’ll get the money, so ... hopefully I’ll get many wins.”

Additional reporting by Staff writer

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