Closing 68 for Maguire as Lydia Ko secures 20th LPGA win

Ronan MacNamara
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Lydia Ko (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)

Ronan MacNamara

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Leona Maguire saved her best for last as she closed her Tournament of Champions week with a final round of 68 as Lydia Ko eased to her 20th LPGA Tour triumph.

Maguire had opened her campaign with three successive rounds of 68 but she made a big move and finished in a share of 12th place on four-under-par, ten shots behind Ko.

Ko carded a final round of 70 which was good enough for a fourteen-under total and a two shot win over Alexa Pano as she became the seventh woman to win 20 LPGA Tour titles before turning 27.

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The win is obviously great,” Ko said. “I wasn’t sure if I was going to be back in the winner’s circle, and to be back to the first tournament of the season, it’s pretty cool and so much faster than I could have ever anticipated.

“This is a great and comfortable way to start the season,” said Ko. “I haven’t played particularly that great at this event before, so to go in with a two-shot lead today was a little bit of a comfort cushion to rely on. But I knew that it was going to be windy today, and the cold was going to be a big factor, so nobody was going to shoot super-low scores. I tried to be really steady. There were nerves coming down the stretch, but I felt like I tried to stay as patient as I could.”

Ko was winless in 20 LPGA starts last year but now her quest for the LPGA Hall of Fame is back on track. Ko needs 27 points to get there, and her win on Sunday put her just one point away. Each regular LPGA win is worth one point.

She could get there as early as this coming week, at the LPGA Drive On Championship, played just two hours from her home, in Bradenton.

“I think whenever the announcer on the tee says, ‘Lydia Ko, 19-time winner on the LPGA,’ I’m like, ‘Whoa, I won 19 times. That’s really cool,’” said Ko. “To have the first number change, that’s awesome. To be part of the small group that has won more than 20 times, to be in that 20 club is really cool. Last year, I was chasing the Hall of Fame. I felt like I could have, with the way I was playing in 2022, I could back it up with another great year. Look where it put me.

“I’m not going to think about it much. I just got to strive to be the best golfer I can. If my career leads me to becoming a Hall of Famer, that’s awesome. I’m just a South Korean-born Kiwi playing this game of golf, and who knew I would be standing here and have played in the Olympics and have won on our Tour?”

 

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