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Amateur Ko becomes youngest LPGA winner



Coquitlam, BC (Sports Network) - Leaving no doubt about it, Lydia Ko entered golf's record book Sunday.

Firing a 5-under 67, she took the title at the Canadian Women's Open to become the youngest winner in LPGA Tour history and the first amateur to earn a victory in more than 40 years.

"I just came to make the cut and play the best," Ko said in a television interview. "I won and I'm going to get the trophy, and it's amazing."

It wasn't particularly close, either.

Ko began the round with a 1-stroke lead but finished three ahead of the field. She won with a score of 13-under 275, while Evian Masters winner Inbee Park took second at minus-10.

No amateur had won an LPGA Tour title since JoAnne Carner in 1969, but Ko's victory is not a total surprise.

The New Zealand resident had already become the youngest winner of a professional golf event in January when she captured the Women's NSW Open. She was 14 years old then, turned 15 in April, and claimed victory at the U.S. Women's Amateur Championship two weeks ago.

Prior to Sunday, American Lexi Thompson held the record as the youngest winner in LPGA Tour history, as she won the Navistar LPGA Classic last September when she was 16.

But Ko grabbed the record with a round of fantastic golf.

Playing in the final group with Stacy Lewis and Jiyai Shin, Ko birdied holes two and six to get off to a good start. She bogeyed the seventh to dip to minus-9, and was joined in the lead by Chella Choi, who was playing a group in front of Ko and birdied six and seven to reach the same score.

Choi also birdied the 11th, but Ko sank a short putt at the 10th and didn't let go of the opportunity to pull ahead for good.

Choi faded, but Ko only got stronger down the stretch. Her birdie at 10 was the first of four in a row, and she ran another home at No. 15 to get to minus-14.

By that point, the tournament was essentially hers. She held a multiple-stroke lead and, playing with a winner's instinct, as well as a big cushion, for the final three holes.

Ko did bogey the 18th, but by that point she had a 4-shot advantage over Park and the mistake didn't change the result.

The performance was so good, one of Ko's playing partners had to pay her compliments on Twitter.

Stacy Lewis, the No. 2 player in the world, wrote: "All I have to say is that was one of the most impressive rounds of golf I have ever watched!"

Because she is an amateur, Ko did not collect any prize money, but her talent could translate into big paychecks if Ko were to turn professional. However, she said in numerous interviews she plans to remain amateur and compete in college.

"I've come to realize it doesn't matter," she said on TV. "When I turn pro I'll get the money, so ... hopefully I'll get many wins."

The way Ko's played already, that seems probable.

Choi carded a 71 to finish at minus-8, and shared third place with U.S. Women's Open winner Na Yeon Choi (68) and Shin (71).

NOTES: Park earned $300,000 for finishing in second...Park finished in the runner-up position for the second straight event. She shared second with Brittany Lincicome at the Safeway Classic last week, when Mika Miyazato was the winner...World No. 1 Yani Tseng (74) shared 35th place at 1-over par...Lincicome, the defending champion at this event, closed with a 7-over 79 and finished in a tie for 60th at plus-6...The LPGA schedule takes a break until September 6 when the Kingsmill Championship begins. The event was previously known as the Michelob Ultra Open, but hasn't been run since 2009, when Cristie Kerr won.

08/26 18:52:59 ET


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