Golf: Ko to go pro next year

World No 1 amateur golfer Lydia Ko has confirmed she will turn professional next year after finishing runner-up by only two shots at the Evian Championship in France overnight.

The 16-year-old from the Gulf Harbour Country Club, who was hoping to become the youngest major champion in golf history, carded a one-under par 70 to finish two shots back from Norway's Suzann Pettersen who won on a 10-under par total.

"I'm going back home tomorrow, so I'm thanking God that we finished today. I didn't want to delay my flights. I miss home,'' Ko said.

"Obviously my coaching staff, well, my dad is back at home, so they're definitely going to help me with the decision of when I'm going to turn pro. [It will be] definitely next year.''

Speculation has been mounting for more than a year around when Ko will finally make the move and given she is ranked in the world's top 10 players, she certainly has the game. Today's result saw her move to fifth in the world rankings - the first time she's been inside the top five.

She has not missed a cut in 25 professional tournaments around the globe since making her debut at the New Zealand Women's Open in 2010.

Ko has finished in the top five on seven occasions in professional events, claimed two titles and has now finished runner-up in a major.

Ko, who began the final day at the Evian Championship tied with Pettersen, only one stroke back from round two leader, Japan's Mika Miyazato, knew she was once again chasing history.

"I tried to play my own game, set my own goals,'' Ko said. "If somebody else played better, like Suzann did today, I can't do anything about it.''

The Pinehurst School Student's runner-up finish is her best result in a major - bettering her tied 17th at the LPGA Championship earlier this year.

It is also the best finish from a New Zealand woman in a major championship surpassing the effort of Wellington pro Lynnette Brooky who finished tied 12th at the US Open in 2002.

She claimed the leading amateur honours for the sixth time in seven major appearances.

Ko was looking to break the records of American Morgan Pressel, who won the 2007 Kraft Nabisco Championship at the age of 18 years, 10 months and nine days, to be the youngest women's major champion. Tom Morris, who claimed the 1868 British Open when he was aged 17 years, five months and eight days, was the youngest men's champion.

The New Zealand Women's Open Champion opened birdie-bogey-birdie to be one-under par while Pettersen began with a par and two birdies to claim a one shot lead.

"I think from there it started to go from who is gonna get that shot lead and she was making more birdies than me. So, yeah, I guess it was tight. Two shots can happen anywhere. But, yeah, I don't feel like I was too far off.''

Ko admitted she never really got anything going with the putter in the final round but was not going to blame the condition of the course after a rain-interrupted championship.

Pettersen held a two shot lead with two holes to play and Ko knew that she had to chase the title.

The Norwegian missed the green on the 17th but Ko always felt like she was going to make her par.

"I didn't feel that confident with my putting today,'' Ko said. "I left a couple putts short. I was really happy with my up and down, my chip on 18. It was a good finish.''

When she does turn professional, Ko will leave behind an amateur record unprecedented in the game.

- APNZ

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