Mon, Oct 26, 2015 - Page 20 News List

Ko wins Taiwan Championship

KIWI PRODIGY:Lydia Ko’s nine-stroke victory saw her go top of the world rankings and replace Nancy Lopez as the youngest player to win 10 events of the LPGA Tour

AP, TAIPEI

New Zealand’s Lydia Ko holds the trophy after winning the Fubon LPGA Taiwan Championship at the Miramar Golf Country Club in New Taipei City yesterday.

Photo: Chen Chih-chu, Taipei Times

Lydia Ko ran away with the Fubon LPGA Taiwan Championship yesterday to regain the No. 1 spot in the world rankings.

The 18-year-old New Zealander holed a 30-yard pitch for eagle on the par-five 12th and finished with a seven-under 65 in sunny, breezy conditions at the Miramar Golf Country Club in New Taipei City’s Linkou District for a nine-stroke victory.

Ko took the top spot in the world from South Korea’s Inbee Park with her fifth LPGA Tour victory of the season and the 10th of her career. Park skipped her title defense in Taiwan to play in a Korea LPGA event, where she tied for second yesterday.

“I think winning and playing well at an event is the top priority, and then if you get the extra bonus with it, it’s even better... The winning part is probably the most memorable. I haven’t really thought about being world No. 1 again,” Ko said.

Ko also took the top spot from Park with a second-place tie in the season-opening event in Florida. Park moved back in front with her major victory in the Women’s PGA Championship in June in New York.

“In Ocala, I was disappointed in the way I finished,” Ko said. “Coming tied second and being world No. 1, I think it’s a little different right now. I think I played really consistently well the last couple weeks, so I think it’s something we can all celebrate and I want to share this with my whole team.”

At 18 years, 6 months, 1 day, Ko is the youngest player to win 10 events on any major tour. Horton Smith set the PGA Tour mark of 21 years, 7 months in 1929, while Nancy Lopez set the previous LPGA Tour record in 1979 at 22 years, 2 months, 5 days.

“I actually met her in Cleveland for an outing a couple months ago,” Ko said about Lopez. “She’s such an amazing person and an amazing golfer. To have beaten her record, it’s an honor.”

Ko finished at 20-under 268 after opening with rounds of 69, 67 and 67 to take a four-stroke lead into the final day.

South Koreans Ryu So-yeon and Ji Eun-hee tied for second.

“She’s still a teenager, so it’s really hard to believe how she acts and how she plays,” Ryu said about Ko. “I feel really happy to be playing with someone really special on the tour. She’s not only a good player, but she’s a really good person. If she was not a good person, I might be jealous, but I totally respect [her].”

Ryu shot a 68 and Ji had a 70. England’s Charley Hull was fourth at 10-under after a 70.

Hsu Wei-ling was the top-ranked Taiwanese on one-over 289 after a 73, while Kaohsiung-born Candie Kung was a shot further back. Former world No. 1 Yani Tseng was on three-over 291 after a 70.

Ko birdied four of the first six holes, bogeyed the par-three seventh, then opened a seven-shot lead with the eagle chip on 12.

“I mishit it a little bit, but I was looking at it and thought it was flying enough, and then I saw it kind of landed a yard or two short of the green,” Ko said. “When I walked up, I felt like it was a little on the firmer side, so I kind of thought it would bounce up anyway, but I didn’t imagine it going in.”

She added birdies on the par-three 14th and par-five 18th, chipping to within a foot on the last.

Ko has three victories in her past five starts. She won in Canada and France — where she became the youngest major champion — in consecutive starts, tied for second two weeks ago in Malaysia and tied for fourth on Sunday last week in South Korea.

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