New Zealand amateur sensation Lydia Ko won the LPGA Canadian Women’s Open for the second straight year on Sunday, leaving an elite professional field in her wake.
Ko, whose triumph in Vancouver last year at the age of 15 years, four months made her the youngest LPGA Tour title winner in history, backed up that milestone victory with a five-stroke victory over France’s Karine Icher.
“I’m pretty surprised, but I played some really good golf out there, so I was really happy about that,” said Ko, who grabbed another slice of LPGA history as the first amateur to win two titles on the tour. “My goal today was to shoot five-under and just play my own game. If somebody else shot better, then I can’t do anything about it.”
Ko carded a final-round six-under 64 at Royal Mayfair Golf Club for a 15-under total of 265.
The bespectacled teen curled in a birdie putt at 18 — her seventh birdie of the day — lifting her arms in triumph as it dropped.
“I didn’t have it coming,” Ko said of her final 15-footer. “That’s why I was like: ‘Oh, my God.’ I was pretty worried it would just go straight down because I knew it was a slippery putt. No, I just hit a little bit and it trickled down in the hole.”
Icher, one of the bevy of Europeans playing in the wake of their Solheim Cup triumph over the US in Colorado, carded a 67 for 270.
Sweden’s Caroline Hedwall, the first player to go 5-0 in the Solheim Cup, had started the day with a one-stroke lead. She carded a 71 to share third on 271 alongside Brittany Lincicome of the US, who shot 69.
Taiwan’s Yani Tseng shot a final-round 73 to finish tied for 24th place with a one-under 279, while fellow Taiwanese Candie Kung finished tied for 51st place on 286 after a 74.
After an opening par, Ko birdied three straight holes starting at the second, then added birdies at the sixth and eighth to seize a lead she would not relinquish.
Norway’s Suzann Pettersen pushed her with a run of three straight birdies starting at the fifth, but she could not get the gap below three strokes.
Ko led by four after a birdie at the 12th, but gave that stroke back with her lone bogey of the day at 13. Pettersen’s challenge evaporated with a double-bogey at the 14th.
Ko’s 64 was three shots better than the next-best round of the day, Icher’s 67.
“Yeah, no, not too bad for me, obviously, but I would love to win one one day,” said Icher, who took home the winner’s US$300,000 purse because of Ko’s amateur status.
Her victory made Ko the first player to defend a title on the LPGA Tour since Taiwan’s Tseng won the Women’s British Open in 2010 and 2011.
Ko’s fourth victory in a professional tournament is bound to renew the question of when the 16-year-old will turn professional.
Ko’s win at the age of 14 in the Australian LPGA’s Women’s New South Wales Open in January last year made her the youngest player, male or female, to win a professional tournament.
Additional reporting by staff writer