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Lydia Ko wins 18th professional tournament

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 27/06/2016 NZ Newswire
Lydia Ko during the final round of Walmart NW Arkansas Championship. © Jamie Squire/Getty Images Lydia Ko during the final round of Walmart NW Arkansas Championship.

Lydia Ko has won her 18th professional title, dominating the final day of the NW Arkansas tournament to finish three shots clear of the field.

World No.1 Ko left playing partner Morgan Pressel of the United States in her wake early in the final round of the 54-hole LPGA tournament after they began with a share of the lead on 14-under.

The Kiwi 19-year-old quickly opened up a four-shot lead and was rarely threatened as she closed with a 68 to finish on 17-under - three shots away from her best tournament total score.

Victory was set up by Ko's course record-equalling 62 in her second round at the gentle Pinnacle Country Club.

She wasn't as precise on Sunday, mixing six birdies - all in the first 10 holes - with three bogey.

In a rare lapse, her second shot found the water on the par-five 18th hole but she was never in danger of being caught by Pressel. 

The American's challenge faded after climbing to within two shots of the lead at the seventh hole, battling to close the gap after Ko had birdied four of her first five holes.

It continues another exceptional season for Ko, who has notched three LPGA titles this season to lift her career Tour tally to 13.

She has finished runner-up three times this season and, in 13 LPGA tournaments, has yet to finish worse than 23rd.

This month Ko became the youngest and fastest women's player to surpass $US6 million ($NZ8.5 million) in career earnings.

It was another near miss for Pressel, 28, who closed with a roller-coaster 71. The former major champion hasn't won a title since 2008.

She has secured seven runners-up finishes, one of which was a play-off loss to Ko last year in San Francisco.

Ko will skip next week's Portland Classic to focus on her preparation for the US Women's Open in San Martin, California starting on July 7.

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