In her last chance to become the youngest major champion in LPGA Tour history, Lydia Ko shined on Sunday closing with an 8-under 63 to claim her first major title at the Evian Championship. Ko battled fellow young superstar Lexi Thompson down the stretch but pulled away on the final five holes for the six-stroke victory. Ko shot all four rounds in the 60’s (69-69-67-63) to finish at 16-under par 268. Her round of 63 was the lowest final round by a winner in a major championship, previously held by Karen Stupples (64) at the 2004 Women’s British Open.
“The first feeling I get is I'm very wet, I'm very cold,” Ko said of the celebatory water shower on the 18th green. “But it's a great feeling. Today has been unbelievable. You know, I put myself in a good position going into today, over the last couple of days, and yeah, I just focused on my game. Lexi was playing really great golf, hitting good shots to the pin and making a lot of great putts. So I just said, hey, I've just got to focus on one shot at a time.”
Ko’s final round of 63 also tied her career low which she shot on two previous occasions. She started the day two shots off the lead and needed to chase down Thompson who extended her lead to three after three-consecutive birdies on holes 5-7. But Thompson dropped a shot on the par 3 8th hole and Ko birdied the 9th to get within one shot.
Ko’s eight-foot birdie putt on No. 11 gave her a tie of the lead at 11-under par and she never looked back. She would pick four more birdies on her final seven holes while Thompson stumbled with a double bogey on the par 3 14th leaving the door wide open. Ko bogeyed the 18th hole in the first three rounds and joked that she still didn’t get a par. She sank a 15-foot birdie putt on the last to put the icing on the cake.
“You know, I didn't know I'd make the putt, so I said to Lexi, I'll just go anyway, and it ended up dropping,” said Ko. “Lucky I didn't have like a three-footer for par…It's been so amazing, and I said before that my goal coming into today was to make par on 18, and that's still not accomplished yet. I'll be back next year to do that.”
Lexi Thompson looked like she might be the one to pull away during the front-nine as she held a 3-shot lead over Ko with a birdie on the par-5 7th but that would end up being her final birdie of the round.
"I played well enough in my first nine. I struggled on the back." Thompson said about her final round. "I kind of lost my tee ball and didn't hit good iron shots, and it's kind of hard to beat somebody that shoots 63."
Ko said on Saturday that she wish she had a five or 10 shot leading going into the final round. When asked what it was like to walk down the 18th hole with a five-shot lead, Ko said it was her caddie, Jason Hamilton, who reminded her to take it all in.
“Jason told me to just enjoy the moment,” said Ko. “Any tournament it's hard to come down the 18th with a five-shot lead, and to do it in a major, it's an even better feeling.”
A brief and rare sign of emotion from Ko came during the water spray celebration on the 18th green from Danielle Kang, Amy Yang and sister Sura. It was that moment when she came to realize she made history again.
“Yeah, a couple teardrops,” said Ko. “I didn't totally cry-cry. But I kind of got a little overwhelmed, and I could kind of feel tears coming when Jason said, enjoy the moment, coming down onto the green. I kind of felt back over the whole week and all the questions I've been asked. But in a way I was relieved. But to kind of have that putt go in, I think just everything dropped. I didn't really know what was going to happen. I mean, it was so amazing, and just, I think, all feelings kind of went into me.”
The 2015 Evian Championship was Ko's final chance to surpass Morgan Pressel as the youngest female to win a major championship. Pressel won the 2007 Kraft Nabisco Championship at just 18 years, 10 months and 9 days.
Youngest LPGA Winners
|Morgan Pressel||2007 Kraft Nabisco Championship||18/10/9|
|Lexi Thompson||2014 Kraft Nabisco Championship||19/1/27|
|Hyo Joo Kim||2014 Evian Championship||19/2/0|
|Yani Tseng||2008 McDonald¹s LPGA Championship||19/4/16|
|Inbee Park||2008 U.S. Women's Open||19/11/17|
|Sandra Post||1968 McDonald's LPGA Championship||20/0/19|
|Jiyai Shin||2008 RICOH Women's British Open||20/3/6|
|Se Ri Pak||1998 McDonald¹s LPGA Championship||20/7/19|
|Se Ri Pak||1998 U.S. Women's Open||20/9/8|
|In Gee Chun||2015 U.S. Women's Open||20/10/2|