Tuesday, May 01, 2018

Lydia Ko is back in the winning frame on LPGA Tour

Lydia Ko never cried after winning.
That changed Sunday on the outskirts of San Francisco.
Her victory at the LPGA Tour's Mediheal Championship wasn’t the most historic of Ko’s already remarkable career, but it was easily the most emotional of her 15 LPGA titles.
She couldn’t stop the river of tears streaming down her face after she made eagle to defeat Minjee Lee on the first play-off hole with an epic 3-wood she described as the best shot of her life.
She cried when her older sister, Sura, fell into her arms on the 18th green.
She cried when she turned and saw her mother, Tina.
She cried when she saw her swing coach, Ted Oh, wiping away his own tears, and when her caddie, Jonnie Scott, hugged her.
“I cried like four times in the span of two minutes, which is kind of embarrassing,” Ko said. “I’m like, ‘God, get a hold of yourself.’”
The tears were the story at Lake Merced Golf Club.
Ko's play-off victory followed a 71 in the final round that included three birdies in the final six holes (and one at the last for good measure). Ko, the 54-hole leader, had a chance to give the tournament away after playing the first 12 holes in 2 over, but she refused to take it.
Ko won $225,000 for a 12-under-par total of 276 (68 70 67 71).
The player she beat in the play-off was Minjee Lee (70 70 68 68) who earned $137,536.
Charley Hull finished joint third with scores of 69, 68, 73 and 70 for a total of 280. The English player earned $72,476.
Bronte Law blew her winning chance with a poor last round (by her stands). She scored 76, 70, 70 and 75 for three-over 291. She earned $6,185 for a T43 finish.
Catriona Matthew totalled 293 (74-72-74-73) in finishing T53 to collect $4,518.
Aberdeen's Gemma Dryburgh missed the cut with rounds of 75 and 75.

Ko has had a bumpy few years. The former child prodigy won 14 times before turning 20, but hasn't taken home a trophy on the LPGA since the summer of 2016. That's not a long period of time for most normal professional golfers, but Ko is anything but a normal professional golfer.
"It's a huge relief because people are like, 'hey, because of this you're not winning, because of that you're not winning,'" Ko told reporters. "I tried to stay away from all the media and everything that was being said about me and tried to just focus on what was going on in front. I knew that my game was there, but I just kind of need to put the pieces together and I felt like I was able to do that this week."
She was able to put herself in position with a tasty 68-70-67 start, which seemed to be more (and the most recent) proof that the magic she'd shown as a young teen was still inside of her. Still, self doubt comes easily in the professional ranks, and you don't know until you know.
"I was frustrated," Ko told Golf Channel of the last few years of struggles (she only had one other top 10 on the LPGA this year coming into this week). "Because sometimes I would go into a Thursday feeling, 'Hey, I feel like I can actually play really well,' and then miss the cut, or shoot over par. Self-pressure is the biggest thing, where you kind of put a lot of load on your shoulders."
That load was taken off with one fabulous swing on Sunday, Ko got win No. 15, and the LPGA got one of its biggest stars back in the spotlight.

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