Golf: Ko wins on US soil

Lydia Ko celebrates after winning her second tournament as a professional. Photo / Getty Images
Lydia Ko celebrates after winning her second tournament as a professional. Photo / Getty Images

Lydia Ko claimed her sixth tournament victory and second as a professional today after taking out the Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic in California in a tense finish.

The 17-year-old held a two shot lead with four holes to play after surging past overnight leader Stacy Lewis.

Lewis and fellow playing-partner Jenny Shin cut Ko's lead to a shot with one to play but the New Zealander held on to win her first tournament on American soil, and first as a pro on the LPGA Tour, with a birdie on the 18th hole.

The poised teen made a 5-foot birdie putt moments before Lewis knocked in a birdie of her own to finish one stroke back.

After beginning the day one stroke behind Lewis, Ko birdied three of her final four holes on the front nine on the way to a 3-under 69 and 12-under 276 total at Lake Merced.

Ko takes home $US270,000, ($NZ315,000) celebrating on the 18th green three days after celebrating her 17th birthday at the first tee box with a "Happy Birthday'' song from the gallery.

Ko will move up two spots to No. 2 in the next world ranking.

Her first title as a professional came at the Swinging Skirts World Ladies Masters in Thailand last December.

"It was just intense the whole day," Ko said in a TV interview after the win.

"I made a couple of bogeys on the front nine and I tried to recover with some birdies. I still finished my front nine one-under par which I was surprised about that.

"I had a two shot lead and then Stacy made a birdie and Jenny made a birdie. The 18th hole I knew how loud the claps were so I knew I had to hit it close and give myself a birdie opportunity."

Ko's father was to watch the victory, the first time he's seen his daughter win as a pro.

"It makes it really special," Ko said. "Last year at the Swinging Skirts my sister and my mum were there and now it's my dad and my mum so hopefully one day the whole family will be here."

- With AP

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