Apr 19th, 2021
Imperious Ko takes the crown in Hawaii
New Zealander ends her win drought at the Lotte Championship
Words: GolfPunk Photography: Getty Images
The New Zealander finished on 28-under par for the tournament at the Kapolei Golf Club in Oahu, Hawaii, seven shots clear of South Korea's Inbee Park and Kim Sei-young, Ireland's Leona Maguire and the ever-present American Nelly Korda.
Ko led by a single shot from Korda going into the final round. As Korda struggled to get her round going, Ko slowly pressed the accelerator. Four consecutive birdies from the ninth tee took Ko into an unassailable lead with two more birdies in her last fives holes, putting the icing on the cake.
"There were times that I would think 'Hey, I don't know if I'll ever be back in the winner's circle," said 23-year-old Ko who now boasts 16 LPGA titles.
Ko had come close in recent weeks, most notably shooting 62 in the final round of the ANA Inspiration to finish in second two shots behind Patty Tavatanakit.
"When you're in that position and it doesn't happen, you do doubt."
Korda, who stormed into contention with a nine-under-par round of 63 on Friday, struggled on the greens. She trailed by four at the turn and fell further behind, following bogies at the 12th and 13th. However, the world number four rallied with three birdies in her last five holes to close with a 71 and a share of second.
"You know, I'm happy with a second finish," Korda said.
"You never complain finishing second in a tournament. Left a lot out there, but Lydia played so well. It was her time."
Inbee Park shot a flawless final round of 63, including seven birdies and an eagle, to take a share of second alongside Korda. Countrywoman Sei Young Kim also shot a bogey-free round of 65 to join the group on second at twenty-one-under par.
Ireland's Leona Maguire eagle the long seventeenth to the select group in second place and pick up a very welcome cheque for almost $126,000.
The halfway leader, Yuka Saso of the Philippines, finished with a two-under 70 to finish tied sixth alongside Taiwan's Hsu Wei-ling (66), South Korean Jenny Shin (63), Sarah Schmelzel (66) of America
Georgia Hall of England finished strongly with a round of 67 that grabbed her a share of twelfth place.