Golf: Ko leads heading into final round

Lydia Ko will take a one-stroke lead into the final round of the JTBC Founders Cup in Phoenix as she chases her first win on the LPGA Tour for 2014. Photo / Getty Images.
Lydia Ko will take a one-stroke lead into the final round of the JTBC Founders Cup in Phoenix as she chases her first win on the LPGA Tour for 2014. Photo / Getty Images.

Lydia Ko admits the nerves will set in when she heads into the final round of the JTBC Founders Cup in Phoenix tomorrow morning (NZT) and chases her first win on the LPGA Tour as a professional, but not much really seems to phase the 16-year-old.

The Kiwi golfer holds a one-shot lead over America's Jessica Korda and Korea's Mirim Lee at Desert Ridge but has little breathing room with 11 players within four shots, including defending champion and world No 3 Stacey Lewis and Michelle Wie.

Ko would dearly love to pick up her first tournament as a professional on the LPGA Tour, and sixth title overall, and is starting to get used to leading big tournaments during her incredible rise to the top of women's golf.

She won the Canadian Women's Open twice as an amateur and took the Swinging Skirts World Ladies Masters in December in Thailand in her second start as a professional. She also has five victories in professional events, also winning in Australia and New Zealand.

Ko is already world No 4 despite playing less than half the number of tournament of the three players ahead of her on the world rankings and stands to pocket US$225,000 if she can remain in front at a tournament with an overall purse of US$250,000.

"Obviously there are going to be some nerves,'' Ko told reporters after her third round. "Of course, it's always there any time, but it's great that you've got a one-shot lead.

"I've just got to take the positive out of it and I'm just going to play my own game. If somebody goes crazy-low, like shooting 10-under, 9-under or whatever, it's not something I can control. So I'm going to control what I can do.''

Ko has been a model of consistency throughout the tournament. She added her second score of 67 to go with the 66 she shot in the second round and has dropped only four shots in 54 holes.

She nearly carded her first albatross today, rolling a five wood close to the hole on the par-five fifth before knocking it in for eagle. She also added four birdies to go with a solitary bogey.

Cristie Kerr took advantage of favourable conditions early to equal the course record with a nine-under 63 and fellow American Paula Creamer carded a 64.

Ko isn't getting ahead of herself but has imagined what it would be like to win her first LPGA tournament as a professional.

"It would be pretty special, and especially at the Founders Cup,'' she said. "Without the founders, there would be no LPGA, and this has been my dream tour.''

- APNZ

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf02 at 20 Dec 2014 21:18:55 Processing Time: 452ms