Lydia Ko has won her first tournament as a professional. The World No.6 has carded a final round three-under par 69 to win the US$1million Swinging Skirts World Ladies Masters in Taiwan by three strokes from Korean professional So Yeon Ryu (73) with World No.1 Inbee Park (70) a further shot back in third place. The 16-year-old from the Gulf Harbour Country Club carded rounds of 68, 68 and 69 at the Miramar Golf and Country Club in New Taipei to finish on an 11-under par total to win US$150,000 (NZD$181,000) in only her second start as a professional. Ko, who finished tied 21st at the CME Titleholders in Florida on her professional debut, defeated a world class field which included five of the top 10 women on the Official World Golf Rankings. The former World No.1 amateur got off to a slow start with a bogey at the first but she rallied midway through the front nine with a long birdie putt at the fifth and another birdie on the sixth. On other side of the turn she added two more birdies at the 10th and 11th before dropping a shot and losing some momentum at the 13th. But Ko showed the composure that saw her win four pro events as an amateur. She came home strong with a birdie on the 16th and then parred the final two holes to secure the biggest pay cheque of her career. Guy Wilson, her coach since she was six years old since they met at the Pupuke Golf Club on Auckland s North Shore, was watching the action live in New Zealand and was once again blown away by his young prodigies composure. I am hugely proud of how Lydia has proved she is not a player of the now but a player of the future, said the Institute of Golf coach. She is someone that everyone will talk about for a long, long time. It proves we can create world champions here in our country when we have the right ingredients. Wilson said he is never surprised to see Ko s confidence and composure to win on the world stage. Watching her cruise through each round and not struggle when the foot was pushed down on her and she showed everyone needs to keep up otherwise she will cruise right on past. It was awesome, just simply awesome. A big Merry Christmas to the Ko family. The former World No.1 Amateur capped off a remarkable year in 2013 where she has won two professional tournaments and finished runner-up in a major championship before turning professional in October. The Pinehurst School Student, who is rated among the favourites for the Sportswoman of Year at the 2013 Halberg Awards, has further underlined her superstar status very early in her pro career. This win will only escalate the worldwide interest in her first year on the LPGA Tour in 2014. Ko will begin her 2014 campaign at the Bahamas Classic from January 23 – 26, where she must attend a mandatory rookie s session, before she will return home to defend her title at the ISPS Handa New Zealand Women&aposs Open in Christchurch from January 31 – February 2.
Author: NZ Golf