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Lydia Ko claims first title as a pro - moves to World No. 4

December 10, 2013

World No. 6 Lydia Ko of New Zealand won the Swinging Skirts World Ladies Masters tournament Sunday after outplaying So Yeon Ryu of South Korea over the final five holes, and has moved to fourth in the Rolex Rankings.

The 16-year-old Ko shot a 3-under 69 in Sunday's final round to finish at 11-under 205 for the tournament and win her first title since turning pro in October.

Ryu, who started the final round with a one-shot lead over Ko, was locked in a tense battle with the New Zealander and still had a lead after 13 holes but fell off the pace with a double bogey on the par-3 14th hole and a bogey on the par-3 17th.

Lyida Ko has won her first title as a pro in just her second event (Photo: CNA)

"Ryu is a great player. It's just lucky I won three shots ahead," Ko said at a press conference, adding that she was very nervous the entire round and did not think about winning until the last hole.

Playing under sunny skies also gave her an edge, Ko said, after she finished tied for 26th at 5-over in 2012 in far worse playing conditions.

Asked about her secret to such success at a young age, Ko said she did not have a clue.

"I'm just lucky to be able to travel around the world and have my family's full support," said Ko, who won a first prize of US$150,000.

Ko, who is of Korean descent, said she was looking forward to playing on the LPGA tour next year and intended to compete in as many tournaments as she could.

Taiwan's Yani Tseng, meanwhile, carded five birdies and one bogey for a 4-under 68 that left her tied for sixth at 2-under 214, one of her best finishes of the year.

"I played very aggressively today," the 24-year-old said, explaining that she went for every birdie putt no matter how long it was.

The local favorite was satisfied with her performance in the final round, saying that she focused on every hole and saw her putting "improve a lot."

Asked if the final round could build up her confidence and give her a lift going into next season, Tseng said it was a learning experience.

"I somewhat built up my confidence (in the final round), but my next tournament will be in late January. The final round made me know better how to adjust and how to improve," she said.

The former world No. 1 was sidelined for a month after undergoing hernia surgery in late October, and she said there is plenty to work on before the 2014 LPGA season begins.

"I'd like to strengthen my physical fitness and make my driving better, which regressed after the month-long rest. I will also try some new clubs and see if it would help," said Tseng, who uncharacteristically had fewer top 10 finishes (4) than missed cuts (6) in 2013.

Tseng also finished 38th on the LPGA money list this year after having never finished lower than 7th on the money list between 2008, her first year as a pro, and 2012.

The 54-hole Swinging Skirts is an official stop on both the Korea Ladies Professional Golf Tour and the Taiwan Ladies Professional Golf Association. This year, 95 players are competing for total a prize payout of US$800,000.

Among other Taiwanese players in the Swinging Skirts, Taiwanese amateur Cheng Ssu-chia finished tied for 25th at 4-over, the best score by an amateur in the tournament, and professional Shih Huei-ju finished 27th at 5-over after shooting a 3-under 69 on the final day.

Teresa Lu, who picked up her first victory as a professional when she won the LPGA Mizuno Classic in Japan in early November, and rising star Yao Hsuan-yu both struggled, finishing tied for 50th at 10-over.



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