LYDIA KO CLAIMS 13TH LPGA TITLE WITH THREE-SHOT WIN IN ARKANSAS
Rolex Rankings No. 1 Lydia Ko used a final round 68 on Sunday at Pinnacle Country Club to capture her 13th career victory at the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship Presented by P&G. The 19-year old set a new tournament scoring record with a three-day total 17-under par 196 and finished three shots clear of Morgan Pressel and Candie Kung.
“On this stretch of the last three weeks, I played really solid, and to go back home, I know winning the last event of the three week stretch I played, it’s a really cool feeling, and I’m going to enjoy the week off next week,” said Ko.
Ko, who was tied with Pressel at 14-under to start the day, came out firing on all cylinders and took control early in the round. She birdied four of her first five holes to extend the lead to four shots and never turned back.
She picked up her first of three bogeys on the day on the par 3 6th hole and Pressel followed it up with a birdie on No. 7 to cut the lead to two shots.
Ko and Pressel exchanged birdies on both Nos. 8 and 10 to keep the margin at two shots but Pressel stumbled down the stretch with four consecutive bogeys on Nos. 11-14.
“I had high hopes certainly, and I felt like I played pretty well for nine holes,” said Pressel. “Hung in there, but then I just couldn’t keep it going and couldn’t get lucky as I had been getting lucky. It just wasn’t my day.”
Ko’s back nine wasn’t as memorable as she would like, closing with a bogey on the 18th to drop to 17-under par but the Kiwi was more than pleased to take home career victory No. 13.
“I think I got I think the sun hit me a little bit. I was feeling a little tired, but, you know, I was trying to grind my way out,” said Ko. “It’s not really the fanciest finish, finishing up with a six, but I just think of it as me bogeying another hole, but it was a great week and I love coming back here.”
HECK OF A STRETCH
It seems the teenage sensation that is Lydia Ko is showing no signs of slowing down anytime soon. Ko cruised to her 13th career win on Sunday, her third of the season, and said she has been happiest with her consistency this season. She realizes she’s peaking just at the right time in the jam-packed summer stretch that features four majors and the Olympics.
In her previous five starts, Ko has not finished worse than T18 and recorded three top-6 finishes. Her win this week is just another sign that she’s primed for a big summer.
“I know we’ve still got a long stretch of events and two majors,” said Ko. “The Olympics and a lot of great events. I’m going to enjoy a couple days off next week, then prepare for Cordevalle. Cordevalle is going to be great. I think the girls are super excited.
“And after the first major of the year, I feel like the next three kind of come really quickly, so there is almost no time to completely relax,” said Ko. “But it’s just been really fun and I enjoyed going to Cordevalle and playing the practice round a few months ago, so I’m looking forward to going back there in only two weeks.”
WOOO PIG SOOIE
Lydia Ko had plenty of fans cheering for her at Pinnacle Country Club on Sunday, and for more than just her stellar play. The New Zealand native donned an Arkansas Razorback hog hat while walking up the 17th hole to the delight of the crowd surrounding the “Loudest Hole on the LPGA Tour.”
“I ended up doing it today and it was really cool,” Ko said. “The 17th hole is the loudest hole on Tour for us, reserved for the fans and all the Razorback fans to be there to, you know, go, ‘Oh, pig sooie.’ It was really cool. I had to channel my inner Razorback.”
PRESSEL AND KUNG POST SEASON BEST FINISHES
Morgan Pressel and Candie Kung each fell three shots short of Lydia Ko on Sunday but both had something to be happy about leaving Rogers. Their runner-up finishes were the best of the season for both players.
“I kept myself in there. I was really tired out there,” said Kung. “It was really hot. It finally got to me today. I think that’s how I started the day, how I started. Because it was just a mental mistake on the second hole. I made that for bogey. But luckily I’m making the birdies coming in.”
Pressel was tied for the lead at the start of the day but struggled on the back nine to fall short, recording her seventh runner-up finish since her last win at the 2008 Kapalua LPGA Classic.
“Oh, for sure. Great to play well here,” said Pressel. “Hopefully a stepping stone moving forward. I’ve got a couple majors coming up, Portland next week, of course, that I love. Just look forward to the big summer and then coming back here next year.”