New Zealand

Golf: Lydia Ko cashing in after superb form produces 16th LPGA Tour victory


Lydia Ko claims superb drought-breaking victory at LPGA Tour’s Lotte Championship. SOURCE / Sky Sport

April is proving to be a lucrative month for Lydia Ko who is back to the stunning form that saw her reach number one in the world at just age 17.

Ko’s drought-breaking victory at the Lotte Championship in Hawaii yesterday was he first since April 2018 as she captured her 16th career title on the LPGA and 21st overall title.

The Kiwi finished with a final round of 65 to end the tournament at 28-under, seven shots clear of four players tied for second.

Ko has completed 100 straight holes with just one bogey.

The US$300,000 winner’s cheque came a fortnight after earning US$287,716 for second place at the ANA Inspiration, the opening major of the year.

The 23-year-old has so far earned US$791,944 for the season (NZ$1.1m) with four top 10 finishes to go with her victory. She now sits in 13th all-time on the LPGA career money list with US$11,592,269 earned across 184 events since her professional debut in 2013.

Ko will move into the top 10 of the world golf rankings and sits second on the Race to the Globe CME season standings behind Nelly Korda who was second in Hawaii.

After winning 19 times before turning 21, Ko had a period where she struggled for form, followed by a stint where she was in contention, but couldn’t produce the final-round performances she had become accustomed to.

One of those final-round struggles came at the Marathon Classic in August, where Ko lost a five-shot lead with six holes to play in the final round, having led the field over the first three days.

After victory in Hawaii, she admitted she had struggled to sleep before that round.

“I told my mum this morning, before Marathon, I couldn’t even sleep on Saturday night – even though I’ve been in that position before, it had been such a long time, I think I was putting a lot of pressure on myself and I know there were a lot of expectations.

“But I slept great last night, I just said ‘hey, my fate is already chosen, and I’m just going to play the best golf I can’.”

Close calls and lost leads led to doubt creeping in for the 23-year-old.

“When you’re in that position, and it doesn’t happen, you do doubt. If I said I didn’t doubt myself at all, that would be a lie.

“Hand on my heart, there were times I wondered ‘hey, I don’t know if I’m ever going to be back in the winner’s circle’, but I’m obviously grateful for everything that has happened in my career so far. Being back in this position is super cool.”

If the form continues she will go into the Tokyo Olympics as one of the favourites as she attempts to go one better after claiming silver in Rio five years ago.

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