Lydia Ko holds off Lewis to win Swinging Skirts

Published on NewsOK Modified: April 28, 2014 at 10:46 am •  Published: April 28, 2014
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DALY CITY, Calif. (AP) — After a whirlwind week featuring a multitude of celebrations that included her first LPGA Tour victory as a pro, Lydia Ko planned to sleep late Monday before catching a San Francisco cable car for a little bit of sightseeing.

What a successful, memorable trip she had to the Bay Area.

Ko turned 17 and had "Happy Birthday" sung to her at the first tee box to kick off the inaugural Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic, earned a spot as one of the 100 most influential people in the world by TIME magazine, and captured her first LPGA Tour title as a professional — all while playing with a fill-in caddie from the local club.

"Normally they would say sweet 16, but I would say it's sweet 17," Ko said. "I don't think I could have any better birthday week."

Poised and unflappable, Ko made the perfect pitch up to the green from the rough to birdie the final hole Sunday, holding off Stacy Lewis and Jenny Shin for her third LPGA win in all.

It went down to the final shots, and the teen made a 6-foot birdie putt moments before Lewis knocked in a 4-footer of her own to finish one stroke back.

After beginning the day a stroke behind Lewis, Ko birdied three of her final four holes on the front nine on the way to a 3-under 69 and 12-under 276 total at Lake Merced.

Ko earned $270,000, celebrating on the 18th green three days after celebrating her birthday at the first tee box with the gallery singing "Happy Birthday."

Ko, born in South Korea and raised in New Zealand, will move up two spots to No. 2 in the next world ranking.

Her father, G.H., got to see her win Sunday.

"Tears nearly ran down my face. You may lose friends, but you're always going to have your parents," Ko said. "I try to make myself not cry of happiness, but it was coming to that point."

She won the Canadian Women's Open as an amateur the last two years and took the Swinging Skirts World Ladies Masters in December in Taiwan in her second start as a professional. She has six victories in pro events, also winning in Australia and New Zealand.

All three of Ko's LPGA wins have come on courses most of the other golfers also played for the first time.

The third-ranked Lewis finished with a 71 for her sixth runner-up finish since winning the Women's British Open in August. She will head to her home state of Texas next week looking to build on a disappointing near miss in which she struggled all day with her short game.