Lake Merced Golf Club
Daly City, Calif.
Final Round Notes, Stats and Interviews
April 26, 2015
Two days after her 18th birthday, world No. 1 Lydia Ko celebrated with her seventh LPGA Tour title by closing out Morgan Pressel on the second playoff hole with a birdie at the Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic. Ko’s second win of 2015 comes at the same tournament she got her first win as an LPGA Tour member a year ago, becoming the first player since Inbee Park at the 2014 Wegman’s LPGA Championship to defend her title.
“I just tried to go with my game plan. I knew that whoever was going to win in the playoff was going to make a birdie,” Ko said. “You know, there is not that many places where you’re going to get a chance for a bogey or something. We’re both hitting the ball good, so I knew that at the end it was somebody that was going to make a good putt and come off with a birdie.”
Ko climbed into the playoff with Pressel with an equally clutch birdie at the 18th to get to eight-under-par for the tournament. Pressel, a group behind Ko, made costly bogeys on Nos. 15 and 16 to allow Ko to climb back into it and wasn’t able to capitalize at the 18th with the door cracked, missing a 15 foot birdie at the last that would have ended it after 72 holes while Ko waited on the practice putting green. Back down the fairway they went and the championship again appeared to be Pressel’s for the taking when Ko left her birdie try short, and Pressel had a 10 footer for the win. It narrowly missed high on the right edge of the cup, opening the door for Ko after they both tapped in for pars.
“I don’t know if any one has more pressure,” Pressel said. “They were all chances to win the tournament; certainly the first two. I don’t know. I just tried to put good strokes on it. First one I was disappointed to leave short. You don’t want to leave a chance to win the tournament short. The second putt I really thought that I hit a good putt, and then it was a complete misread on the third one, so...”
On the second playoff hole, Ko hit first and plopped it six feet short right of the hole. It took her two holes longer and one more birdie on the 18th than a year ago, but Ko again was able to close the books on this championship with a birdie at the last.
“Here last year I knew I needed to make that putt because I knew Stacy [Lewis] would make it,” Ko said. “Like even this
year I missed my birdie on 17. I said, If I want to put some pressure, I need to make a birdie or better on 18. Ended up being good for that. But, yeah, this tournament always makes my heart clench. You know, I got so nervous. It’s a good thing that they’re going in the hole, yeah.”
Five of Ko’s seven LPGA Tour victories have now come when she’s trailed entering the final round and she is now 2-0 in playoffs after winning a three-way, four-hole playoff at the CME Group Tour Championship a year ago.
As for the nerves that Ko promises are there but never seems to show, well, you’ll just have to believe her.
“Why wouldn’t you? I’m an 18 year old and I’m very nice,” Ko joked when asked. “No, yeah, I do get nervous. You have to take my word on that. My 17th hole shot at Ocala definitely proves it, doesn’t it? That was a pretty bad shot. Yeah, you know, I think everybody has nerves. Some people show it; some people don’t. But to me, even just playing a round of golf with club members gets me nervous. I know I’ve got the nerves. If some people think I don’t look like I am nervous, then it’s a good thing.”
Numbers to know
7 – Seven wins for Lydia Ko
5 – Five of Ko’s seven wins have been come from behind victories
20% - Lydia Ko has now won five of her last 25 starts
3 – With her win, Lydia Ko now leads all three of the LPGA’s major categories - Money List, Rolex Player of the Year and Race to CME Globe
ko rallies after slow start
Lydia Ko trailed by three shots entering the final round and it looked like her bid to defend was shot. But Ko calmed herself at the par-3 third and dropped her approach in five feet from the hole and drained the birdie. That proved to be a jumping off point.
“I said, ‘Man, this is an awful start,’” Ko joked when asked what she said to herself. “Just hitting that good shot on 3 kind of gave it I guess a little bit of a turnaround. Last year after four holes I was one over, then two, but I was able to bring it back with some good birdies.”
Ko admitted at points Sunday she just wondered if it just wasn’t her day. She made a birdie on the 13th but followed with a disappointing par on the par-5 14th. She then drained a 40-foot bomb for birdie on the 15th but followed it up with a bogey at 16. Then she hit a brilliant second into the 17th to eight foot that would have pushed her into a tie for the lead but narrowly missed it low.
“On 17 I thought it was a hint that, You know what? It’s not your week. That putt on 18 kind of proved me wrong,” Ko said.
It still almost wasn’t. Ko had to head to the practice putting green after signing her card and wait for the gallery groan to know that Pressel had missed her 15 footer at the last and she’d have another hole to try and defend. She then had to watch hopelessly again after leaving her birdie putt on the first playoff hole one roll short – a putt that was dead center – as Pressel lined up a makeable 10 footer.
“After I had already played the hole it’s just really out of my hands,” Ko said. “I know how great of a putter Morgan is, so I kind of thought she was going to make it. I was like, I tried my best and that was kind of it. I think it was probably the first playoff hole that would be a little bit more disappointing because I had the perfect line and then it just lipped it like the ball was short. You never really want to leave it short in that case.”
pressel comes up just shy of win number 3
Morgan Pressel gave herself chances but wasn’t quite able to capitalize and take home her first win since 2008 falling to Lydia Ko on the second playoff hole.
“I had plenty of chances out there today, so I can’t be too disappointed. I gave it my all,” Pressel said. “Definitely was a little bit sloppier today in general. I did not have my so called A game, but got into the playoff. Hit one good putt and hit one not so good putt.”
Pressel had an up-and-down day on Sunday with four bogeys, two birdies and a 50 foot bomb for eagle on the par-5 sixth to post a 72 and sat tied with Ko following four rounds. Pressel had looks for the win on both the 18th and her first playoff hole but narrowly missed both. On the second playoff hole, Pressel missed a 25-footer while Ko calmly drained a six footer to claim her seventh LPGA victory.
“I hit a couple good wedges but just couldn’t convert the putt,” Pressel said. “That’s all it really come down to is putting at the end of the day. If you look back at the way we played the 18th hole, she birdied it twice and I didn’t. It was a very strange day. Missed a 4 footer for birdie and make a 50 footer for eagle on the next hole and then 3 putt. It was kind of all over the place. But I gave myself a chance, and that’s what I came here to do.”
Learning experience for henderson
Brooke Henderson wasn’t able to convert her 54-hole lead into the first LPGA victory, falling a mere shot out of the playoff between Lydia Ko and Morgan Pressel, but the Canadian was able to gain a lot of experience that she hopes to take moving forward in her career.
“I learned a lot from today,” Henderson admitted. “Just the whole atmosphere of being in the final group on Sunday was amazing. I didn’t play my best, but it was fun just to be there and be in contention most of the day.”
Henderson had a rough start to her day with bogeys on the first and third holes but was able to rebound and stay in the hunt for the remained of the round and set her up with a chance to make the playoff.
“On the 18th hole, had a putt to tie and get into the playoff, which would’ve been really nice, but a third finish here is definitely a confidence booster moving forward,” Henderson said. “You know, even down the stretch I never gave up and was still going, because I knew it’s never over till it’s over.”
Henderson’s effort was noticed by her playing partners.
“Brooke is a grinder,” said Pressel. “She reminds me a lot of me when I was that age. I knew that she was going to stay tough. We both made some sloppy mistakes that I know neither she nor I would’ve liked to make.”
Henderson will catch a flight this evening and head on to Dallas for the Monday qualifier for the Volunteers of America North Texas Shootout where she will look to improve upon her third place finish.
“I definitely won on a lot of experience,” Henderson said. “I can gain a lot from that moving forward. Hopefully I’ll be in the position that I was in earlier this morning many times in the future and I’ll be able to take everything that happened today and be able to learn from it.”
quote of the day
“I don’t know that she needs any advice from me. I think she’s doing okay.” -Morgan Pressel on advice she’d have for Lydia Ko