Golf: Ko - 'One of the hardest golf courses I've ever played'

World No1 amateur Lydia Ko called it the toughest test of her young amateur career.

The 15-year-old from Auckland carded rounds of 76 and 78 in testing conditions on the final day of the British Open at the Royal Liverpool Golf Club to finish in share of 17th place and claim the Smyth Salver as the leading amateur. Ko claimed the medal by two shots from England's Holly Clyburn, who finished tied for 26th place.

Ko, the youngest golfer to win a professional event, finished on a nine over par total, 18 shots back from runaway champion South Korean Jiyai Shin who won the event by nine shots.

"I'd like to congratulate Jiyai Shin on her win and its really good for me as people say I look like you," Ko told guests and fellow players in her acceptance speech. "It's good to look like the winner."

It was a light moment of respite away from the howling winds and rain that Ko had battled for 36 holes today in her British Open debut.

"It was tough," she said. "We were about to fall over and the greens were flooding and yeah it was really tough today. I mean this was one of the hardest golf courses I've ever played and for the weather to be really bad it didn't help at all."

Ko's tie for 17th means that she broke the record for the best performance by a Kiwi amateur at the British Open after Lynnette Brooky finished tied for 37th and the fifth placed amateur at Woburn in 1993.

Marnie McGuire and Brooky still share the best finish by a New Zealander at the event when they both finished tied for 14th in 1994 and 2003 respectively.

"I wasn't that happy with my game but I got leading amateur and that's what I wanted after yesterday so I guess I have to be happy about that," Ko said.

"This is my first experience at the British Open and I did much better than the US open so I can't say it was a bad day, and I have had lots of fun playing the course."

After rounds of 72 and 71 Ko began the day in a share of 12th place but the brutal conditions at Hoylake made the 36 hole shootout today (Mon) a battle for survival.

She got off to a slow start in round three with five bogeys on the front nine to make the turn in five over par 40. The US Amateur Champion bounced back well playing the back nine in one under par to sign for a 76.

But there was little break from the wind and Ko was right back into the elements shortly after. She made the turn in three over par 38 in the final round.

Ko made three birdies, three bogeys and a triple bogey on the par four 14th to come home in 40 and sign for a 78. She was mindful of the leading amateur honours during her round and thought she had blown it.

"The scores are pretty high, except for Jiyai Shin, which shows it's pretty tough, but you know, after my triple on 14 I was like, 'oh forget leading amateur'," she said.

Ko said the experience of playing alongside the world's best professionals was again a thrill and she was humbled by the amount of support she received following her win at the Canadian Open.

"They congratulated me and it's really awesome to see people giving congratulations, and I also respect them and look up to them so much. There were a few tweets on Twitter, even Gary Player and stuff so yeah it was really awesome."

Ko said she would enjoy some down time before heading to Turkey for the Espirito Santo World Amateur Team's Championship from September 27-30 where she'll team up with Emily Perry and Munchin Keh.

- APNZ

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