CARLSBAD, Ca. — World No. 1 Lydia Ko (-19) held off a charging World No. 2 Inbee Park during the final round of the Kia Classic to win her first LPGA event of the 2016 season.
The 4-shot victory was the 11th of Ko’s short career, including her two wins as an amateur. Ko has now won five times when she slept on a 54-hole lead and continues the dominant start to her career in just her third year on Tour.
“I started off really well and I gave myself good opportunities on 1, 2, 3, 4. I was able to make birdies on 1 and 2 and then I just kind of peeked at the leaderboard and saw Inbee was making a lot of birdies,” Ko described. “Inbee doing her Inbee things; I knew that I needed to focus up until the last moment and fortunately I made some birdies down the stretch which really helped today.”
Ko started the day with a four shot lead and looked to be running away with it before she called a penalty on herself for a double hit as she was putting off the green on 10. Inbee Park then cut Ko’s lead down to one thanks to clutch 15-foot birdie putt on 17 but Ko responded with three consecutive birdies to finish her round. The lead was just too much for Inbee to overcome.
“Well, you know, nothing is impossible, and obviously on this golf course anything can really happen,” Park described of her belief in a comeback. “I mean, it is hard to be four behind Lydia going into the final round but I just gave it my best and I think I was just maybe too much behind.”
Ko now heads to the ANA Inspiration looking for her second career major victory with a great deal of confidence.
“I’ve been playing consistently well so I’m really happy with that and it’s just good to see the hard work we’ve put in the off-season,” Ko said. “All the work we’ve put in as a team kind of paid off. Yeah, a really happy moment, but I have to focus for next week and I’m really excited to go back to ANA.”