Jin Young Ko wins ANA Inspiration for first major title

Getty Images

Getty Images

Golfer Ko Jin Young joined the long list of South Korean LPGA major champions yesterday morning (Singapore time) with a three-shot victory over compatriot Lee Mi Hyang at the ANA Inspiration in Rancho Mirage, California. That gave her exemption for the LPGA Tour for 2018, and Ko won her first official LPGA start in February previous year at the ISPS Handa Women's Australian Open.

"This creates great memory here", an emotional Ko said.

The world No. 5 took home $450,000 to become the first player to surpass $1 million in earnings this year.

"I won the tournament and that's a happy moment", Ko said through tears of joy. "It's a historical place, and this golf course sets up really well for me".

Ko, the 2016 KLPGA Player of the Year, had nine career wins on the domestic tour when she claimed her first LPGA victory at the KEB Hana Bank Championship on home soil in October 2017. "Also, I really try, don't think about future, doesn't matter".

"I won. I can believe it now". Despite a wobble on the back-nine with bogeys on the 13th and 15th, the destiny of this event always seemed to be in the hands of Ko, who birdied the 16th and 18th to fulfil an emotional dream at this iconic tournament, one that she had coveted the most, celebrating with the traditional leap into Poppie's Pond.

Kim said she struggled to find her best form Saturday, with Ko overtaking her. "I'm not a robot". In three previous appearances at the ANA Inspiration, Ko's best finish was T-64 past year.

Not surprisingly, Minjee Lee was again solid on the weekend and her 71 moved her up to one under and a share of 21 place.

"I had couple rounds on this course with my coach", Ko said. The Englishman also leaped into Poppie's Pond with Grace Park in 2004 and Lorena Ochoa in 2008.

"Everyone knows what they're playing for, that this is a major championship", Kang said. "He helps me all the time on the course".

She finished at 10-under 278.

"Was good comeback", Lee said. It was her second bogey in three holes.

"It feels wonderful", Thompson said about her strong finish. "I was getting down a little bit, but he just kept me right in there playing aggressively the whole day - making those birdies and just firing at every pin I could".

Carlota Ciganda closed with a 68 to be tied for fourth at 283 with Kim and a 66 put Kristen Gillman at 284 along with Jessica Korda, Ally McDonald, Hyo Joo Kim, Kang and Jeongeun Lee6. The 30-year-old South Korean lost a chance to win the event seven years after missing a 14-inch putt on the final hole of regulation and losing on the first hole of a playoff.

Kim declined to comment after the round.

Brooke Henderson of Smiths Falls, Ont., is tied for eighth at 2 under.

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