TEENGAGE golfing star Lydia Ko continues to defy her age, winning her third professional title and first New Zealand Women’s Golf Open in Christchurch at the weekend.
The 15-year-old, still an amateur, held off 143 other players, most of whom are professionals, to take the three round tournament by a single shot.
While not making her goals public before teeing off, she had talked with her mother Tina about finishing in the top three.
She more than achieved that goal, ignoring the pressure of playing infront of her home fans to claim the trophy which will sit alongside her the New South Wales and Canadian Open titles from 2012.
“[I thought] that’s pretty good in a professional tournament that’s a pretty good job especially this one with 30-something LPGA players,” she told Fairfax NZ.
“This was a really good field and the LET [Ladies European Tour] players are great as well.”
She was tied for the lead going into the final round, and took the top spot with a birdie three at the first.
She was two-under at the turn, but had to hold off the challenge of Stacey Keating of Australian and American Amelia Lewis.
Lewis could have forced a playoff but three putted the final hole, leaving Ko the task of making a four on the final hole to win.
She sealed the victory with a metre and a half putt.
“There were lots of thoughts going through my head [on the back nine]. I made a good birdie on 15 and I said ‘let’s just make par down the last stretch’, but it wasn’t easy.”
“I think I putted better today than the first day. There weren’t many huge mistakes.”
Ko’s coach Guy Wilson is spending less time with her as she prepares to eventually join the pro ranks, and she showed some rare emotion at the conclusion.
“I didn’t cry at the Canadian Open so I don’t know why I cried here. I guess it meant more. It is our national open so to win means a lot.
“I am not the person who shows expression or feeling but I guess the tears showed what this means to me.”