Golf: Ko wins first event as pro

Lydia Ko holds up the 2013 Swinging Skirts World Ladies Masters trophy. Photo / Getty Images
Lydia Ko holds up the 2013 Swinging Skirts World Ladies Masters trophy. Photo / Getty Images

It didn't take long. Two weeks after making her professional debut teenage phenomenon Lydia Ko claimed her first tournament victory as a pro yesterday - winning the Swinging Skirts World Ladies Masters US$800,000 event in Taiwan.

Trailing by three shots heading into the final nine holes of the three-round event at the Linkou Miramar Golf Club in Taipei, the 16-year-old held her nerve to surge by world number five So Yeon Ryu to win the event by three strokes.

Ko finished the tournament at 11-under after firing a three-under 69 to go with back-to-back rounds of 68.

The New Zealander took away $US150,000 ($NZ181,000) for the victory, along with $US8,000 she won in the tournament's skins event last week.

Ko began the day a shot behind Ryu but dropped a shot on the first hole, which the Korean birdied, before bouncing back with birdies at five and six. Ryu matched the young Kiwi however as Ko still trailed by three shots at the turn. But that's where the day turned for Ko. With birdies at 10 and 11 the two were suddenly tied before Ko took the sole lead with four holes to play as Ryu lost her way, dropping three shots in the final five holes to finish at eight-under.

World number one Inbee Park finished in third place at seven-under.

"I didn't know I would do it this quick. I'm just so fortunate to do it at such a great tournament," Ko said at the award presentation.

"I was nervous, but before my day started today I just said concentrate on your game. Like I always say you can't really control what the opposition does'."

Ko announced she was turning professional in October after picking up four pro tournament wins as an amateur, including back-to-back Canadian Open titles and the NZ Open earlier this year.

The world no. six finished in a share of 21st place in her professional debut at the CME Titleholders in Florida last month, earning her first cheque of NZD$20,000.

''Two tournaments, two cheques, I'm pretty happy with that," Ko said.

Guy Wilson, her coach since she was six years old since they met at the Pupuke Golf Club on Auckland's North Shore, was watching the action live in New Zealand and was once again blown away by his young prodigies' composure.

"I am hugely proud of how Lydia has proved she is not a player of the now but a player of the future," he said.

"She is someone that everyone will talk about for a long, long time. It proves we can create world champions here in our country when we have the right ingredients."

- APNZ

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