4 Apr 2016

Go Ko! Lydia takes out major and record

8:47 pm on 4 April 2016

Lydia Ko has become the youngest player to win two LPGA major championships, birdying a par-five 18th to clinch the ANA Inspiration in California by one stroke

Lydia Ko celebrates her win at the ANA Inspiration with the winner's jump in the 18th lake alongside her caddie, mother and sister.

Lydia Ko celebrates her win at the ANA Inspiration with the winner's jump in the 18th lake alongside her caddie, mother and sister. Photo: AFP

For the 18-year-old world number one, who closed with three under 69 at the Mission Hills Country Club to finish at 12 under par 276, the win marked her second successive major title after winning the Evian Championship last year.

Ko's the youngest ever two-time major winner on the LPGA Tour and became the youngest back-to-back major winner since Young Tom Morris in 1869.

"It was always my dream to play on the LPGA. Just being here was a dream come true," said Ko, who started the day one back from leader Lexi Thompson.

"For these amazing things to be happening is unbelievable but it also motivates me to work harder."

Britain's Charley Hull (69) and South Korea's Chun In-gee (70) finished a stroke back. Thailand's Ariya Jutanugarn (71) led late but bogeyed the final three holes to finish two strokes off the pace.

The season's first major looked headed for a play-off when Jutanugarn's bogey at the par-three 17th, where she pulled her tee shot badly, set up a three-way tie for the lead.

But Ko, who was coming off a win at last week's Kia Classic, secured her 12th LPGA Tour victory by striking a precise wedge from 88 yards to set up a one-foot birdie putt.

Following her triumph, Ko took the traditional leap into Poppie's Pond next to the 18th green along with her mother, sister, caddie and caddie's fiancé.

Ko was bogey-free for the final round and made several crucial putts to stay in the hunt, including pair of long birdie putts on the front nine and a solid par-save on the 13th to stay two shots back of Jutanugarn.

'Destined to be one of the greats'

Ko's coach David Leadbetter said she would like nothing more than to win a gold medal for New Zealand at the Olympics in Rio later this year.

"She loves New Zealand and is a great role model and ambassador for New Zealand and I don't think there is anything more she would like to do than win a gold medal for New Zealand."

David Leadbetter - 'it's crucial that Ko has time away from golf'.

Lydia Ko's coach David Leadbetter Photo: David Leadbetter

Mr Leadbetter, who's worked with Nick Faldo, Greg Norman and Ernie Els told Checkpoint with John Campbell the young New Zealander was shaping to be one of golf's all time greats.

"I told her at the beginning of the week, 'listen, this is your tournament, you need to go out and win this tournament', and that's exactly what she did.

"When it came down to clutch time she hit this amazing shot on the last hole and it was just absolutely incredible.

"She is just destined to be one of the greats."

Nothing fazed her, and she was passionate and dedicated to the game, he said, adding her talent was so incredible she was "sort of a savant".

"She's just one of those people who have this unbelievable talent who really don't know why they have it."

-RNZ/Reuters

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