COQUITLAM, British Columbia (AP) – Lydia Ko made some more history – and made it clear that she has no plans to rush into a professional golf career.
The 15-year-old Ko is used to questions about her future, and she handled the latest round with ease Sunday after running away with the Canadian Women’s Open to become the youngest winner in LPGA Tour history and only the fifth amateur champion.
“I’ll still remain an amateur and then finish high school and then go to college,” said Ko, who has mentioned Stanford as her college of choice. “I mean this is a great win, but I don’t think this will affect me changing my roots to my career.”
The South Korean-born New Zealander closed with a 5-under 67 for a three-stroke victory. She broke the age record of 16 set by Lexi Thompson last September in the Navistar LPGA Classic in Alabama, and is the first amateur winner since JoAnne Carner in the 1969 Burdine’s Invitational.
“To break another record, or being in the history, it’s amazing, and it’s always awesome to be able to play with the pros,” Ko said. “The last few holes, it got a bit nerve wracking, but Stacy Lewis, after my birdie on 15, she said, `You know you can do it.’ It was really great to have another player that I look up to giving me that much support. So it was really awesome.”
In January, Ko won the New South Wales Open in Australia at 14 to become the youngest player to win a professional tour event, a mark broken by 14-year-old Brooke Henderson in June in a 36-hole Canadian Women’s Tour event in Quebec. Ko also won the U.S. Women’s Amateur two weeks ago in Cleveland.
“I didn’t cry after this one,” said Ko, but (after) that one I did cry,” Ko said, referencing the Amateur. “Yeah, to me, U.S. Amateur is a big event, and obviously this is a huge event as well. But still, as an amateur winning one of the biggest amateur events, I feel like it was a better win – even though this one was awesome.”
Ko finished at 13-under 275 at The Vancouver Golf Club, pulling away with birdies on five of the first six holes on the back nine. She opened with consecutive 68s and shot a 72 on Saturday to take a one-stroke lead into the final round.
“I was most impressed with just her demeanor,” said Lewis, who tied for sixth at 7 under. “I mean you would have never known that it was the final round of an LPGA event. She played like she had been there before.”
Inbee Park shot a 69 to finish second. Park chipped in for birdie on the final hole, and Ko closed with a bogey to make it closer.
“The pressure she was handling is really amazing,” Park said. “I’m really happy for her. It’s great for her career – and I think I was just lucky to get the winner’s check today.”
Park’s $300,000 check as the top pro moved her past Lewis for the season money lead with $1,419,940.
U.S. Women’s Open champion Na Yeon Choi, Chella Choi and Jiyai Shin tied for third at 8 under. Na Yeon Choi had a 73, and Chella Choi and Shin shot 71.
The glove Ko wore in the final round will be displayed in the World Golf Hall of Fame.
“To have something that’s mine to be up there, it’s amazing, and it doesn’t come down or anything,” she said. “So it will always remain there, and it’ll be a good memory. It’s been an awesome week.”
Ko was headed to her native South Korea on Monday, and will return to the tour next month for the Women’s British Open.