More major glory for South Korea as Ko wins ANA Inspiration

Tanya Simon
April 11, 2019

Not that results are quintessential to her smile, but the delightful young Korean surely took a giant step to her goal with a dominant win today in the year's first major, the ANA Inspiration.

The 23-year-old finished at 10-under for the week, ahead of compatriot Lee Mi-hyang who was back on seven-under, with former victor Lexi Thompson in third place following a Sunday round of 67 on the Dinah Shore Tournament Course that catapulted the American into the upper echelons of the leaderboard.

Ko, who is in just her second season on the LPGA Tour, extended her one-shot 54-hole lead to win by three over fellow South Korean, Mi Hyang Lee with American Lexi Thompson another shot back.

The feat marked Ko's first major title and second victory in three weeks earning her 450-thousand dollars in prize money.

She missed a short par putt at the eighth but was back on track with her third birdie of the round at the 11th. Just focus on my swing, on the putting. "I'm still excited. I mean, I can't believe it".

SANYA, China (AP) - Officials at the Sanya Championship said Sunday that 28-year-old Malaysian golfer Arie Irawan died in his hotel room from "apparent natural causes", and the PGA Tour Series-China canceled the final round of the tournament.

Ko followed with a bogey on the par-4 15th, cutting her lead to a single stroke.

In addition to the professionals, five amateur players competed in the event continuing a longstanding tradition of exemptions for top women amateurs.

"Yesterday was a little bit hard for me", Ko said.

Lee, playing in the twosomes in front of Ko, kept the pressure on with an outgoing 35 and a spotless back nine, closing with a 70 of her own.

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Kang's 2-under 70 on Saturday wasn't spectacular, but it was sufficient to move her along steadily and put her in the right position when Ko's wheels started wobbling late in the round.

"My caddie, Benji (Thompson), helped out tremendously", Thompson said.

She shot 74 and tied for fourth with Spaniard Carlota Ciganda, five shots behind Ko.

"I always think about when I can go in that pond", she reflected.

The 30-year-old Kim is hoping to redeem herself after missing a 35 centimetre (14 inch) putt on the 18th hole of the 2012 tournament that would have delivered her the championship.

Jin Young Ko, of South Korea, poses with the Dinah Shore Trophy after winning the LPGA Tour ANA Inspiration golf tournament at Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage, Calif., Sunday, April 7, 2019.

Kim is in sole possession of second place and just one stroke back after shooting a one-over 73.

Ko finished at 10-under 278.

Ko is the fifth South Korean to win the ANA Inspiration, and the 15th South Korean to win an LPGA major. Hamilton's Alena Sharp jumped into a tie for fifth after a 5-under 67, the best round on Saturday, pushed her to 3 under for the tournament.

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