Ko earns 2-shot win at Australian Open

Melbourne, Australia (SportsNetwork.com) – Lydia Ko fired a final-round, 2-
under 71 on Sunday and the world’s top player went on to win by two shots at
the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open.

Ko, who became the youngest player ever to reach world No. 1 status at the age
of 17 three weeks ago, finished the week at 9-under-par 283. The win is Ko’s
sixth on the LPGA Tour and her fourth since she turned pro at the start of the
2014 season. She also won twice as an amateur.

“To win on such an amazing course here, it’s amazing,” said Ko. “I had so much
fun when I was playing here in 2012, but to come out on top here and say I
beat the golf course is pretty awesome. It’s so tough and you can see by the
scores that it’s hard to make one birdie.”

Amy Yang held the outright lead at one point Sunday, but a couple key bogeys
down the stretch hurt her. Yang carded a 1-under 72 on the Composite Course at
Royal Melbourne Golf Club to finish alone in second at 7-under 285.

Rookie Ariya Jutanugarn, who entered the final round tied for the lead with
Ko, shot a 3-over 76 but was still able to finish in sole possession of third
place at 4-under 288.

First-round leader Ilhee Lee (71), Jenny Shin (69) and Chella Choi (72) ended
tied for fourth at 2-under 290.

The final round was virtually a three-way race to the finish between Ko, Yang
and Jutanugarn as the rest of the field sat several shots back throughout the

It was an inauspicious for both Ko and Jutanugarn, who were both one shot
ahead of Yang heading into the day. Playing in the final pairing, Ko and
Jutanugarn tripped to bogeys at the first, dropping them into a three-way tie
for the lead with Yang at minus-6.

“I had a shaky start so that kind of got me more nervous,” Ko admitted.

Yang then briefly took the outright lead. After making back-to-back pars on
one and two, Yang drained her first birdie on three, putting her up one at

It was not long-lived, however, as Ko chipped in for eagle on the par-4 third,
vaulting her into the lead at 8-under. The eagle was Ko’s third of the week.

While Jutanugarn was in the midst of four straight pars from two, Yang tripped
to her first bogey on No. 7, giving Ko a 2-shot lead. Jutanugarn then made
back-to-back bogeys on six and seven, dropping her four shots off the pace at

Then came a 2-shot swing as Ko made her second bogey of the day on eight and
Yang poured in a birdie on nine, tying her with Ko for the lead at minus-7.

Following a delay of about an hour due to lightning in the area, Yang’s eagle
putt on the par-5 10th just lipped out and she settled for birdie, giving her
the outright lead.

Both Ko and Jutanugarn went on to birdie 10 as well, pulling Ko even with Yang
once again and jumping Jutanugarn up to minus-5, three shots back.

Two holes later, Ko’s birdie putt from about 15 feet just made it to the hole
and fell to the bottom of the cup, giving her the lead once again. However,
that was the last move Ko made on the day as she closed with six straight pars
from 13.

Jutanugarn then made a birdie of her own on No. 13 to get within three again,
but it was not quite enough as she bogeyed the next two on 14 and 15. She
finished with a trio of pars to end five shots back in third.

Yang was still right in it, however. After making three straight pars from 11,
Yang made a huge birdie putt on the par-5 14th. Just like that, with four
holes remaining, Yang was tied with Ko for the lead once again.

With Ko not making any moves up the leaderboard, Yang began to hurt herself.
The 25-year-old missed a short par putt on No. 15 and she made bogey, dropping
her out of the lead.

Two holes later, Ko’s advantage was cushioned a bit more as Yang missed
another par putt and settled for her third bogey of the day.

While Yang made par at the last, Ko coasted to the finish with her six
straight pars to earn her sixth career win on tour.

“I think patience is probably the biggest one. You’ve got to hit good shots,
but I think patience was the biggest one that you needed to have,” said Ko.
“Here there are so many putts that can be so close, but then end up being a
couple feet by and you look back and think ‘how did I make that bogey?’ But
it’s kind of easy to do. It’s hard to make birdies but so easy to make bogeys
or worse. I think just patience, that’s what I tried to have.”

NOTES: Ko finished tied for third at this event last season and ended in sole
possession of third in 2013 when she was an amateur … Ko became the youngest
player to win the Australian Open … Defending champion Karrie Webb (71)
finished tied for 16th on her home soil at 1-over 293 … Only 11 players
ended the week under par … Jutanugarn has now finished tied for second and
outright third at her last two events … With the win, Ko earned $180,000 …
The LPGA Tour heads to Thailand next week for the Honda LPGA Thailand, where
Anna Nordqvist earned her third of four career victories with a 2-shot win
over Inbee Park last year.