You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Lydia Ko holds nerve to win second major

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 3/04/2016
Lydia Ko, of New Zealand, watches her tee shot on the second hole during the final round of the LPGA Tour ANA Inspiration golf tournament at Mission Hills Country Club. © AP Photo/Gregory Bull Lydia Ko, of New Zealand, watches her tee shot on the second hole during the final round of the LPGA Tour ANA Inspiration golf tournament at Mission Hills Country Club.

World No.1 Lydia Ko has clinched her second successive major title, seeing off three young rivals in a thrilling finish in California.

New Zealander Ko, 18, sunk a brilliant birdie on the 18th hole at the ANA Inspiration 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.

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 $US2.6 ($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.

As is tradition, the young New Zealander jumped into Poppie's Pond, next to the 18th hole to celebrate her latest triumph in a sport in which she has become the undisputed world leader.

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

Her previous record in Rancho Mirage had been unenviable, placing 25th, 29th and 51st. However, Ko came in with 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 has finished inside the top 15 in her seven worldwide starts this season, including three wins and two runner-up finishes.

She began the final day on nine-under, one shot behind yet another youngster, 21-year-old American Lexi Thompson, who quickly dropped two shots to lose the overnight lead and drift off the pace.

Ko managed birdies on two par-three holes, the fifth and eighth, to hold a one-shot lead through at the midway point.

However, world No.53 Jutanugarn picked up four shots in the space of five holes through the middle of her round to take a grip on a tournament which she couldn't maintain.

Ko's putting had struggled for much of the week but it came right to secure clutch pars on the 15th and 17th holes to set up her grandstand finish.

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon