Lydia Ko got the better of a duel with Leona Maguire to win the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship for a second time, with the added bonus of the biggest payday in women’s golf history.
Ko is a serial winner and held her nerve in a sustained battle with Maguire, eventually breaking away with two holes to play as she secured her 19th LPGA Tour win and the $2 million (c. £1.7 million) winner’s prize.
Maguire deserves tremendous credit for going toe-to-toe with one of the greats of the game, as the Irish player came up just short in her bid for a second career win.
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Ko and Maguire separated themselves from the rest of the field on Saturday, and began the day five shots ahead.
With such a big lead, and with no player emerging from the pack to mount a challenge, it turned into a match play contest.
Ko made a bogey on her opening hole at Tiburon Golf Club, but the New Zealander is a seasoned campaigner despite still being only 25 years of age.
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She got the dropped shot back on the third and a further birdie on the eighth took her into the lead after Maguire made one birdie and one bogey on her outward nine.
It was extremely cagey, with the windy conditions making the course extremely difficult.
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Both made errors on 14 when finding the penalty area, with Ko surprisingly following Maguire into the hazard when the sensible play would have been to go way left.
Bogeys for the pair of them left Ko one shot ahead, and the two-time major winner bounced back superbly with a glorious shot into the 16th which moved her two shots to the good.
Both made birdies on the 17th and that allowed Ko to play defensive golf up the final hole to secure the title, the $2m prize and the player of the year prize.
- 1. Lydia Ko, 17-under
- 2. Leona Maguire, 15-under
- 3. Anna Nordqvist, 14-under
- T4. Georgia Hall, 12-under
- T4. Jeongeun Lee, 12-under
- 6. Pajaree Anannarukarn, 10-under
Anna Nordqvist was the one player who briefly threatened to crash the Ko-Maguire party after three birdies on the spin on the back nine, but a bogey on the 16th took the wind from her sails. She birdied the 18th to finish at 14-under after a closing 65.
Georgia Hall once again proved she is one of the elite players in the game with a run of five birdies on the back nine to finish at 12-under following a closing round of 67.
Charley Hull had a positive weekend, as she added a 70 to her round of 67 on Saturday. But her hopes of victory disappeared when she posted a disappointing 78 on Friday, as she finished at two-under.
It was a mixed four days for rising Swedish star Maja Stark, who closed with a 72 to finish at one-over.
Nelly Korda was unable to back up her win at the Pelican Championship last week, but she retained her status as world No. 1 after making a birdie-birdie finish in a round of 70 to close at eight-under and inside the top 10.
Ko would have snatched the No. 1 ranking had Korda finished outside the top 20, but the American claimed a tie for ninth.
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