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Lydia Ko holds nerve to win second major

NZN 3/04/2016

World No.1 Lydia Ko has clinched her second successive major title, but is adamant that doesn't mean she's anything special.

The 18-year-old New Zealander sunk a brilliant birdie on the 18th hole at the ANA Inspiration in California to finish on 12-under, one stroke ahead of England's Charley Hull, 20, and Korean In Gee Chun, 21.

Thai Ariya Jutanugarn, 20, held a two-shot lead through much of the back nine at the Mission Hills Country Club but bogeys on each of the last three holes handed Ko the first major of the year and her second after the Evian Championship in France last September.

"I don't feel like I'm the most dominant player," Ko said afterwards.

"There are so many great players, you could see that this week - Ariya, Charley, In Gee - there are so many top names that are playing great week in and week out.

"I don't feel like I am special, that I'm better than anybody else."

Despite her youth, Ko was a picture of calm over the closing stages to shoot a flawless 69 while Jutanugarn's iron play disintegrated, falling to fourth place with a 71, two shots behind the Kiwi.

The par-five 18th hole sealed the fate of both players at the $US2.6 million ($NZ3.8m) tournament.

Ko pitched her third shot within a foot of the hole, tapping in a birdie to take the lead and heap even more pressure on Jutanugarn in the final group, who found water from her tee-off.

Having missed out in her first 16 major tilts, she has won the last two and threatens to add plenty more to her CV.

Ko came to Rancho Mirage in red-hot form, having won the Kia Classic in California this week.

She produced consistent golf from the outset, particularly with her metronomic driving.

Only three bogeys were registered, with none of them in her last 50 holes after she overcame some allergy-related difficulties with her vision on day two.

Ko is the first player to win back to back on the LPGA Tour since Korean world No.2 Inbee Park in 2013.

She's made the top eight in 13 of her last 14 tournaments, including six wins, and this is her 12th LPGA Tour victory, three weeks out from her 19th birthday.

But Ko says there's no secret formula behind her consistent success.

"I just try and enjoy it, and that's the most important thing for me," she said.

"To me, fun is the key - I think fun is underrated. Obviously we need to be serious out there, and you need to try your best and you need to focus, but at the same time you've got to have fun.

"When I have fun, that's when I play the best."

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