Ko’s 14th win on the LPGA Tour comes in dramatic fashion

 Lydia Ko. Photo: Getty Images

Lydia Ko. Photo: Getty Images

It was called the Marathon Classic and a marathon it turned out to be.
At the conclusion of the regulation 72 holes in the eastern US state of Ohio three players were tied for the lead.
They were Ariya Jutanugarn, Mirim Lee and New Zealand star Lydia Ko.
The trio headed out to the 18th tee for a sudden-death playoff to determine the winner of the LPGA Tour tournament.
The 18th hole for the Marathon Classic was a par five and one of the trio would surely score a birdie at the first attempt, it seemed.
But all three ended with pars and it was back to the 18th tee for a second time. Once again all three scored pars.
It was back to the 18th tee for a third time. Yet again all three had pars.
Spectators and television viewers started asking themselves how much longer could this go?
It was back to 18th tee for a fourth time and Ko finally broke the deadlock to score a birdie. Ko pumped her fist emphatically after sinking the winning putt in what was the longest playoff of the LPGA season and in the tournament’s history.
Ko picked up the winner’s purse of $US225,000 and it took her career earnings on the LPGA Tour to $US7.1 million.
“We all played and stuck to our game plans, and we all gave it a good run for it,” Ko said.
“Our putts were so close and were not falling, and every time I said, hey, the ball is big enough for the hole – yeah, the hole is big enough for the ball. Right? Either way, it’s a long day.
“Yeah, so it’s been – it was hard to just see so many putts just slip by. I said, hey, maybe she’s going to win, and then it just slipped by; maybe I’m going to win, and it slipped by. To see that putt drop on the last hole was a cool feeling.”
Ko shot a brilliant 30 on the first nine hole of the final round and built up a four-shot lead. But her two-over 39 on the back nine allowed Jutanugarn and Lee to get back in the mix. Jutanugarn’s clutch eagle on 17 was enough to get her into the second playoff of her career.
“It was a really good experience, like I said,” Jutanugarn told reporters at the end of the day.
“It’s really nice for me to have a chance in a playoff.”
Lee’s final round 65 was the lowest of the day and allowed her to move up from tied for sixth to the top of the leaderboard. Without realising it, the South Korean had actually taken the lead going into her final hole but closed with a bogey to move back to 14-under par.
Said Lee: “I didn’t know I’m in the lead. I don’t know, I just played, yeah. I didn’t think about the lead, just that I kept going, enjoyed playing.”
Ko’s win was the 14th win of her career on the LPGA Tour and it made her four-for-five in playoff scenarios overall, with the only loss coming earlier this season to world No 2 Brooke Henderson in the US PGA Championship. It was also Ko’s second win in the Marathon Classic.
“Just a lot of great vibes,” Ko said.
“I like Ohio. The people have been great.’’
Lydia Ko’s fellow Callaway ambassador Henrik Stenson captured his first career major championship early on Sunday in The Open Championship at Royal Troon. Ko said the two became friends after meeting one another at an outing last year and they trade congratulations messages to each other when the other one wins.
“I actually met him at an outing last year, and he was so open, super nice, and actually one of the funniest guys I’ve ever met,” Ko said.
“I knew either way today was going to be a great day for Team Callaway. I know Phil (Mickelson) had an amazing week, and I can’t believe he shot six-under or something and ended up losing. I saw the coverage earlier on, and Henrik Stenson, his ball-striking was just amazing.”