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Impressive Ko wins second season title
July 20, 2014

Rolex Rankings No. 2 Lydia Ko (-15)
Rolex Rankings No. 9 So Yeon Ryu (-14)
Rolex Rankings No. 11 Cristie Kerr (-12)
Rolex Rankings No. 402 Kelly Tan (-11)

Is it really even a surprise anymore when Lydia Ko does what she did Sunday? Seventeen-year-olds aren’t supposed to be that unflappable, that immune to pressure. They’re not supposed to step up to a 72-yard shot, needing a birdie, and hit it to four feet for the win. But never before has there ever been anyone this good, this young. With the birdie, Ko finished off a final-round, bogey-free, 6-under-par 65 to emerge with a one-shot victory and the fourth LPGA win of her career and second this season.

“I came in today with a goal of shooting 6-under. After my first nine I said, I definitely can shoot that,” Ko said.

Ko, the No. 2 player in the world, still swears she gets nervous on every shot, even if she never seems to show it. The four-footer she drained on the last was particularly clutch considering Ko entered the 18th with a one-shot lead before So Yeon Ryu drained a snaking right-to-left 30-foot bomb on the 17th hole. But Ryu, playing one group behind Ko, missed a must-make 6-foot birdie on the last to finish one back of Ko at 14-under-par for the tournament.

“I actually couldn’t see it properly because I was behind some people,” Ko said. “I kind of saw by the crowd’s reaction.”

Unsurprisingly, Ko becomes the youngest player in LPGA Tour history to cross the $1 million mark (17 years, 2 months, 26 days) and that doesn’t even include the money she didn’t receive after winning twice as an amateur. Ko’s 65 came with birdies on two of the last three holes. However, Ko’s still focused on the pocket money that comes from birdies. The 17-year-old who doesn’t even have her driver’s license has an allowance deal going with her mom where the amount she gets increases with each shot under par she finishes.

“I think it’s $10 per under par I shoot,” she said. “I mean, we totally forgot about that. Then like about a month ago I was like, ‘Mom, what’s going on? I need this.’ I mean, I guess finishing 15-under is $150 extra.”
The money doesn’t mean much to her. She’s not “going to spend $1 million and buy something like a diamond ring,” she said with a laugh. Instead, she might splurge with the $150 in allowance she gets from her mom.

“Maybe I might get something electronic. I do what teenagers do and be excited when you get pocket money in your wallet,” she said.

Cristie Kerr had battled Ko all day for the $210,000 check, tying her on the 13th hole with a birdie, but she played the final five holes in 1-over-par and finished three back of Ko at 12-under-par. For the week, Kerr played the final two holes – both par-5s – in just 1-over-par. Ko, by comparison, played them in 5-under.

“I didn’t play 17 and 18 well all week. If you’re going to win here, you have to take advantage of those holes,” Kerr said.

Third-round leaders Lee-Anne Pace (tied for 4th) and Laura Diaz (tied for 18th) faltered in the final round with a 71 and 74, respectively.

The storybook finish that nearly was: What a storybook finish it could have been when So Yeon Ryu nailed the bomb on 17 for birdie to tie it up with Ko. After Ko calmly birdied the 18th, Ryu knew she needed a birdie to force a playoff and potentially get her second win here in Sylvania.

Ryu, though, blocked her tee ball on 18 into the rough on the right and had a tree behind her slightly impeding her backswing. She hit a wonderful recovery shot that just barely cleared the creek on 18 and proceeded to stuff her iron to six feet. But the putt, which would have been three birdies in a row to finish, didn’t drop.

“Absolutely disappointed I missed that birdie putt,” Ryu said. “But still, I had like quite a rough front nine but I was fighting pretty great on the back nine.”

Fighting is an understatement. Ryu was phenomenal on the back - 4-under heading into the 18th - but her putt to tie it missed bad right and never really had a chance.

“I wasn’t nervous. Even I was surprised how I calmed myself,” she said. “I don’t think I missed it because of nerves or something. I misread the line.”

The runner-up is her best finish of the season but her ninth top-10 finish of the season.

Season-defining fourth: In early December if Kelly Tan’s not at the LPGA Final Qualifying School Tournament, there’s a great chance she’ll look back on the Marathon Classic Presented by Owens Corning and O-I as the week that did the trick. Coming into the week ranked No. 116 on the money list, Tan’s tied for 4th finish earned her $60,028, which more than doubled the $26,292 she entered the event with.

“With this finish, I think I’m going to be pretty happy going into the next few events,” Tan said.

However, if she doesn’t end up falling inside the top-100 on the money list at the end of the season, one hole – and more specifically, one putt - may be the one she looks back on as the one that cost her. At 12-under-par in a tie for 3rd, a birdie would have earned her sole possession of third. Instead, she bogeyed to finish in a three-way tie for fourth, missing a five-footer on the last. That putt cost her $23,773.

“I knew that I need the 4, but I don’t know what happened there. I think adrenaline. You know, I just hit and land over and I have a tough chip,” she said. “Disappointing. Of course it’s not a pretty finish as I want to, but I played great all week.”

Still, this finish will jump her at least 40 spots on the money list into the top-75 on the money list. This was her sixth cut made of the year, but her previous best finish was a tie for 26th.

Eagles helping warriors: $200,000 has now been raised for the Wounded Warrior Project by the CME Group with four players carding eagles on Sunday, hitting the $200,000 mark exactly.

“Wounded Warrior Project® Weekends” is a season-long charity program that will be tied into the Race to the CME Globe. Each Saturday and Sunday at LPGA tournaments, CME Group will donate $1,000 to Wounded Warrior Project® for each eagle that is recorded. This amount will increase to $5,000 for each eagle during the weekend of the CME Group Tour Championship and a formal check will be presented to the Wounded Warrior Project® during the trophy ceremony at the CME Group Tour Championship.

Today, four eagles were recorded to go along with the four from Saturday. It brings the total money raised this year to $200,000. Through the first 17 tournaments prior to the Marathon Classic Presented by Owens Corning & O-I, $192,000 had been raised.

Crown bound and on a roll: The inaugural International Crown will have a large group of players coming in next week to Caves Valley Golf Club outside of Baltimore riding on a wave of momentum. Republic of Korea’s So Yeon Ryu came up one putt short from forcing a playoff with this week’s champion, Lydia Ko. Ryu shot all four rounds in the 60’s (68-67-68-67) and recorded her fifth top-five finish of the season. Seven other players who will be representing their countries next week finished in the top-20 this week at Highland Meadows.

Cristie Kerr/USA (-12, 3rd); Katherine Kirk/AUS (-11, T4); Pernilla Lindberg/SWE (-10, T7); Lindsey Wright (-10, T7); Ai Miyazato/JPN (-9, T12); Lexi Thompson/USA (-9, T15); Candie Kung/TPE (-8, T15).

Quote of the day: “If I didn’t wear my glasses, I would not be able to hit the ball straight. So, you know, I’m lucky that there is stuff like glasses for people to be able to see and things like contacts. I think that’s one of the amazing things that has been created in this world.” - Lydia Ko on her trademark glasses

Social scene: Danielle Kang, Ko’s best friend on Tour, took to Twitter to congratulate her on the victory by posting a funny selfie Ko had sent her.

Click here for full scores & prize money.


Rolex Rankings No. 2 Lydia Ko (-15)

MODERATOR: It's my pleasure to welcome in the 2014 Marathon Classic presented by Owens Corning and O-I, champion Lydia Ko. Congratulations on your fourth career LPGA Tour victory, second as a member.

What a day. 65 to close it out. Talk about the emotions when you sank the birdie putt.

LYDIA KO: Okay. Yeah, no, I came in today with a goal of shooting 6- under. After my first nine I said, I definitely can shoot that. I know that the players are all going to make a lot of birdies coming in, so I knew that I needed to do my share.

Yeah, it is definitely nervous. You know, it's still maybe four feet, but they say that's one of the most nerve-wracking on the range because you kind of expect it to go in.

But I think the day went great and I ended up as winner. That was my goal coming in.

MODERATOR: How much during the day were you watching the leaderboard? It was absolutely packed all day, just everybody within a shot or two.
LYDIA KO: I didn't really see it the first nine, but then I guess I kind of -- it's like right there, so it's kind of hard not to look. I did look and.

You know, obviously I started two shots behind the leader and that's why obviously I needed two shots better to I guess kind of be even.

Yeah, obviously it was a tight one where everybody had a chance of being there or going down. I knew I needed to play well to kind of get it done.

MODERATOR: Questions for Lydia.

Q. Were you able to see Ryu's putt, the birdie on the last hole?
LYDIA KO: No, I actually couldn't see it properly because I was behind some people. Yeah, I kind of saw by the crowd's reaction.

Q. Was it hard to hold your positive emotion in check? Missing that putt made you the champion. Did you keep that inside?
LYDIA KO: Yeah, you know, it's obviously -- I mean, to my side obviously would be great if she misses the putt. Obviously she's a great player and I kind of expected her to get it in.

Inside I was like, Man, I think I need to prepare for this playoff. Yeah, it's good for me, but then the day -- you never know what's going to happen. It's done when everybody is off the course and everybody has holed their last putt.

Q. Did you know this made you a millionaire on the LPGA Tour, the youngest ever?
LYDIA KO: I didn't know that.

MODERATOR: We didn't either until today, so...
LYDIA KO: Now I know. Pretty sure that goes into my mom's account or something. But, yeah, I don't really think about money when I'm out here. When they give you the check I go, oh, it's $210,000. That's big money, but when I'm out there I'm thinking about making birdies and hitting good shots and making putts rather than, okay, this putt is going to give me an extra thousand.

MODERATOR: When you started, your mom, you guys had allowance deal going. She was going to give you a little allowance. The more you win is it getting bigger? Are you deserving a little bit more? Do you have to have that talk today?

LYDIA KO: I think it's $10 per under par I shoot. I mean, we totally forgot about that. Then like about a month ago I was like, Mom, what's going on? I need this. I mean, I guess finishing 15-under is $150 extra.
It's good. To me, that's kind of more fun. Thinking about pocket money and getting money off your mom, I think that's exciting for me.

MODERATOR: Keeps you more in the 17-year-old realm instead of you going into your bank account and looking at $1 million.
LYDIA KO: Yeah, you know, that's what I look at. I'm not going to spend $1 million and buy something like a diamond ring or whatever.

Maybe I might get something electronic. I do kind of what the teenager thing does and be excited when you get pocket money or extra money in your wallet.

MODERATOR: Are electronics your vice? Those are the things you like to splurge on?
LYDIA KO: When I'm off the course I like to spend a lot of time on my computer. That's why maybe I'm this blind.

But, yeah, it's good. I mean, I don't need money to spend on these huge, big things.

Q. How good would you be if you didn't have poor vision?
LYDIA KO: If I didn't wear my glasses I would not be able to hit the ball straight. So, you know, I'm lucky that there is stuff like glasses for people to actually be able to see and things like contacts.
So I think that's one of the amazing things that has been created in this world.

Q. You're 17 years old. Do you have no fear?
LYDIA KO: No, obviously I fear a lot of things and I do get nervous about a lot of things. People think, Oh, 17 year old. You're out here having fun.
I get nervous. Every shot makes me nervous. Coming down the stretch makes me nervous. I think through experience I'll be able to kind of cope with that. I mean, that's what it's all about, experience.

Q. Was there a point in the round today where you said, I can win this tournament? Some shot somewhere in the round where you said, I can win?
LYDIA KO: You know, I kind of made pars and a birdie now and then and then made par and then made birdie.

I think I was playing pretty consistent, so I knew that if I kind of kept this going for the rest of my round I would be in a good position to get close to the winner or win.

I'm out there trying to make as many birdies as I can. Especially with the last two holes being par-5s, you never know what's going to happen. Someone might make an eagle or a birdie.

I knew I needed to concentrate on my game and make as many birdies as I can.

MODERATOR: You looked calm all day, which you do. You trick us and say, Oh, I wasn't calm. I was nervous. What are you most proud of about your round?
LYDIA KO: My ball-striking was really good today. I think I didn't miss that many fairways and didn't miss where I wanted to hit it. If I did miss, it wasn't that far off.

No, the closest I was to making a bogey was probably on 11. Other than that, I think I played pretty consistently. Especially with the greens being I guess kind of circular and not too big, if you're somewhere around the pin you can have that far-off putt for birdie.

Yeah, I was pleased with how I was hitting the ball, and that made it easier to get more opportunities for birdie.

Q. Talk about having nerves. You're 17 years old and you won $1 million. You've won four times out here. I mean, somebody might suggest you're sort of an assassin. That's a bad word, but I can't think of a better word. Is it ability that allows you to overcome those nerves?
LYDIA KO: They called Inbee Park a silent assassin.

MODERATOR: Uh-huh, and junior silent assassin.
LYDIA KO: It feels good to be close to her what and she's done. I just go out there and try and have fun and make as many birdies as I can.

Especially on a course like this, you know, I know that someone could possibly shoot 8-under, 10-under and win this thing. I try and not think about the money and what comes at the end of the day.

When you win, the speeches and everything, there are other things come with it, but I try and just concentrate on my game and the hole and get the round finished.

MODERATOR: You had your first win in the Bay Area at the Swinging Skirts. First win as a member in your rookie season. How important was it to get win No. 2? Only need six starts in between your last win and today. How important was it to get the second win, No. 2 here?

LYDIA KO: I think every win is very important. It helps with my confidence. Coming off last week, I mean, it's totally different conditions. British Open can definitely start to blow.

But I kind of felt confident even though I shot an 80 on the last day. Coming here I kind of felt good about the course. And to know that it's a course that I played before, that helped me with confidence, too. The majority of the courses I've never played.

Every win is very memorable to me, but I guess it's better when you keep going up and the numbers go up. I kind of wanted to win because the announcer said I won three times this year. I don't mind winning three times this year, but, no, I only had one at that stage. One more to go to his standards.

Maybe when he calls out five-time winner this year, then maybe I need to do that again the next year. I'm just going to have fun. I'm excited for the rest of the season.

Q. You played here as an amateur last year. Do you remember exactly when you made that decision to leave the amateur ranks?
LYDIA KO: I made that decision right after I came back from Evian. I kind of got back and got to talking with my parents and my support staff.

Yeah, no, I think it was a good decision. It was good for me because I knew there would be a lot of media attention towards it. It was actually during my exams so I had an excuse where I didn't need to concentrate on golf and the pro life.

I think that one month was really good for me. Then I kind of came out and played my first one at the CME Titleholders in Naples. Yeah, it's been a very fun journey.

I don't think there is a huge difference being amateur and pro on how I feel. I guess I'm playing week in and week out. I think I that's the hardest part of it. I've been enjoying life on the tour and the LPGA.

MODERATOR: You have a well-earned break. Two weeks off until the next event. Any plans? Just resting a lot?
LYDIA KO: I had actually two weeks after Swinging Skirts, also. I don't know if it's a coincidence or whatever, but I'm excited for the next two weeks.

I don't want to go near my clubs for the next couple days. Even though it's only been two weeks in a row stretch, when you think about it, it's already July and I played seven months.

There is a lot of traveling along there. I'm excited to relax and stay in my bed and watch TV and don't have to put my alarm on at 6:00 to come for an early tee time.

Q. You can still sleep in a little bit.
LYDIA KO: Yeah, unless somebody wakes me up, it's don't touch. Please don't come near.

MODERATOR: What's the TV show of choice now? I know you're a TV junky. What's the show right now?
LYDIA KO: A lot of Korean shows. I like to watch kind of scary stuff like Criminal Minds and detectives and stuff.

I kind of watch it and get creeped out and wonder if that's going to happen to me. That's kind of the fun of it, I guess.

Q. Just update us -- this is a stupid question -- but what your educational status right now?
LYDIA KO: This is my last year of high school. My school is in New Zealand and it's called Pinehurst.

Q. Any plans to continue after that or not yet?
LYDIA KO: Yeah, I plan to go to college after.

MODERATOR: Is that it? All right. Thank you. Congratulations.
LYDIA KO: Thank you.

Rolex Rankings No. 9 So Yeon Ryu (-14)

Q. Disappointed with that?
SO YEON RYU: Absolutely disappointed I missed a birdie putt. But still, I had like quite a rough front nine but I fighting on pretty great the back nine.
Also, you know, also I had a great birdie at 17, but I miss like really important birdie putt at 18. Sometimes like if I got something lucky, something is unlucky. So I just accept it and let it go.

Q. You seem to play well here consistently. What is it about that?
SO YEON RYU: I don't know. I think this golf course feels more like Korean style golf course, like a lot of trees are around here. Especially all the crowd is so warm heart, so they give a lot of the energy to me.
I think that's why I constantly play well in here.

Q. Any second thoughts about the last putt? Did you rush it or anything?
SO YEON RYU: No, you know what? I wasn't nervous. Even I was surprise how I calm myself. I don't think I miss it because of nerve or something. I misread the line, so I think that's why I miss it.
I think it's not a big deal.

Q. How much were you watching the leaderboard? It was very tight the whole day. Looking at it a little bit?
SO YEON RYU: No, I wasn't really see the leaderboard. You know, I play on this tour -- this is my third year on the tour. One thing I learn is don't competing with the other players. Just focus on my game.
I think that's why I play really great at the back nine.

Rolex Rankings No. 11 Cristie Kerr (-12)

CRISTIE KERR: I didn't play 17 and 18 well all week. If you're going to win here you have to take advantage of those holes.
Didn't hit a good putt on 17 today. 18 I could've got there in two right in front. Maybe had an eagle chip and just hit a bad 3-wood. Just kind of left a lot of shots out there this week. Just kind of hit it bad and missed a lot of putts.

Q. What do you take away from this week, though?
CRISTIE KERR: That I had a good bad week. I'm officially in the top 5 and happy with my caddie now.
Just going to keep working on my game. Going to see my coach next week, so look forward to that.

Q. Anything in particular about the last two holes?
CRISTIE KERR: No. I mean, historically I think I haven't played the last two holes well here for some reason. Hadn't played this tournament in quite some time.
It was great to be back. The fans are great here and it's a great golf town for us.

Q. How hard was it to bounce back from last week?
CRISTIE KERR: I was great. I mean, I was not even in -- I mean, I tried to play golf and probably shouldn't have with the passing of my husband's father and I was sick as a dog.
So, yeah, it was great to bounce back. I've got a lot to work on though.

Q. And his sickness...
CRISTIE KERR: He was very sick for a long time and he's in a better place now.

Rolex Rankings No. 402 Kelly Tan (-11)

Q. Emotional swing for you. You were really charging there. Three straight birdies and then the bogey on 18. How tough was that?
KELLY TAN: You know, I knew I got to make 4 here because I think it's another five holes and the last couple are really -- pin position wasn't that tough. Two par-5s to finish.

I know that I need the 4, but I don't know what happened there. I think adrenaline. You know, I just hit and land over and I have a tough chip.

Disappointing. Of course it's not a pretty finish as I want to, but I played great all week. Strike the ball the best, you know, ever since starting this season.

Starting to putt better and gave myself a lot of chances and just kept rolling them in. I will just be patient, you know.

Q. Did your confidence grow as the week went on then?
KELLY TAN: Yes. You know, when I first arrived here I knew the golf course, you don't have to hit it miles. You need to hit it straight. Roll the putts in, you have the chance.

It doesn't favor the long hitter and I'm not the long hitter, so I knew I had a chance. Just got to keep hitting fairways, keep hitting greens, and roll the putts in, you know.

And I did, but looking back I knew I left a couple putts out there. I knew that I would be right up there with the girls.

I'm still very happy the way I finish. The best finish I have for the whole year so far.

Q. Were you pretty excited going into today?
KELLY TAN: Yes, I was very excited because I warmed up great. On the putting green I just see every putt that I want to hit. They're just rolling into the hole. Just couldn't wait to get up there.

I played great on the front nine. Just made a couple mistake on the back nine, but I am still very happy the way I finish.

Q. How did you think this will affect you going forward? Has to be a boost I would think, right?
KELLY TAN: Yes. I mean, you know, as a rookie it's always hard. You always feel like you're a little behind because everybody else has played the golf course.

It's not saying that we are disadvantage, but it's always hard coming as a rookie. You always have to try to step up with the other girls.

You know, with this finish I think I'm going to be pretty happy going into the next few events.

Q. This was your first time here?
KELLY TAN: Yes. First time as a rookie on this tour, too.

Q. What were your impressions of the tournament?
KELLY TAN: Hey, it's great. You know, looking at all the fans and amount of volunteers they got up there is just great. We players appreciate all the volunteers. They could have been doing something else than coming out here helping us. I really appreciate it.

And the fans, it's great. Finishing hole is like thousands of people around you. It's great. I can't wait to come back next year.


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