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Lydia Ko wins Marathon Classic in play-off

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 18/07/2016
Lydia Ko of New Zealand holds up the championship trophy after winning the Marathon Classic after four playoff holes with a final score of -14 at Highland Meadows Golf Club in Ohio. © Gregory Shamus/Getty Images Lydia Ko of New Zealand holds up the championship trophy after winning the Marathon Classic after four playoff holes with a final score of -14 at Highland Meadows Golf Club in Ohio.

A relieved Lydia Ko dug into her reserves of fitness and persistence to win a protracted three-way play-off at the latest LPGA tournament in Ohio.

The Marathon Classic lived up to its name as world No.1 Ko saw off Korean Miram Lee and Thailand's Ariya Jutanugarn on the fourth playing of the long par-five 18th hole.

For three consecutive holes, the trio shot par, missing a succession of mid-length birdie putts which would have secured victory.

New Zealander Ko tweaked her radar accurately enough on the fourth attempt, sinking a 2m birdie putt to secure her 19th professional title at the age of 19 and a 14th LPGA crown.

"The longer we were out here, I think physically and mentally we were all getting a little tired," Ko said. "It was a good extra four holes. In my yardage book, I nearly ran out of pages. "We all deserve to be holding the trophy. I'm very fortunate to be the real one holding it."

Lydia Ko eyes up a putt during the final round of the Marathon Classic in Ohio. © Gregory Shamus/Getty Images Lydia Ko eyes up a putt during the final round of the Marathon Classic in Ohio. It was the fifth play-off of Ko's career. She has won four, with the exception coming at last month's Women's PGA Championship in Washington, won by Canadian Brooke Henderson.

Ko could have avoided the play-off, which lasted more than an hour, if she had played her back nine with more accuracy earlier. She had built a three-shot lead with five holes remaining at the Highland Meadows Golf Club in Sylvania before cracks began to show with bogeys on the 14th and 16th holes.

A putt for birdie on the 18th slipped past. If it had dropped, Ko would have repeated her feat of two years ago when she won the Marathon Classic by a shot with a birdie on the final hole. A two-under 69 was her worst round of the week, resulting in a 14-under finish.

Jutanugarn, who like Ko was seeking a fourth LPGA title this year, shot an eagle on the par-five 17th on her way to 68. Lee, who started the day sixth, stormed home with a 65 although she blew a chance to seal victory when she bogeyed the 18th.

Ko's late-afternoon battle overshadowed a brilliant start to the day, shooting birdies on the second, fourth, sixth and ninth holes.

Her late struggles mirrored a poor finish at the US Women's Open in California this month, where she blew a two-shot lead over the closing stages to finish third.

"It was just slipping more and more away on the back nine," she said. "I thought, hopefully it's not like what happened a few weeks ago. I stayed confident."

Korean Hyo Joo Kim held a three-shot overnight lead but squandered that with three early bogeys. She finished fourth, one shot behind the leading trio.


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