Lydia Ko, 17, picks up victory in LPGA event

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SYLVANIA, Ohio — Now that she’s officially a millionaire, Lydia Ko joked she’ll have to keep a closer watch on where her paychecks go.

Lydia Ko, a 17-year-old from New Zealand, became the youngest player to top $1 million in career earnings on the LPGA Tour.  RICK OSENTOSKI/ASSOCIATED PRESS
RICK OSENTOSKI/ASSOCIATED PRESS
Lydia Ko, a 17-year-old from New Zealand, became the youngest player to top $1 million in career earnings on the LPGA Tour.

“I’ll probably see that going into my mom’s account,” she said with a laugh, referring to the $210,000 she got for winning Sunday’s Marathon Classic.

The 17-year-old broke free from a late tie with So Yeon Ryu, hitting a wedge to 4 feet for birdie on the 72nd hole to take the lead. Then she tried in vain – she’s just 5-foot-5 – to see past the large gallery at 18 as Ryu missed a 6-foot birdie putt on the final hole that would have forced a playoff.

“I couldn’t see it properly. I was behind some people,” she said after her second LPGA Tour victory that matched the two Canadian Open titles she won as an amateur. “But I kind of could tell what happened by the crowd’s reaction.”

She became the youngest player to top $1 million in career earnings on the LPGA Tour. Ko is roughly 17 months younger than Lexi Thompson, previously the youngest.

Ko has shown incredible consistency in her rookie year on tour, making the cut in all 15 tournaments she’s entered. Shehas six top-10 finishes in addition to her wins, with five of those being top-fives.

Ryu had poured in a big-breaking, 25-foot birdie putt on the 17th to pull even.

But then Ko stuck her approach at the par-5 closing hole and calmly rolled in the birdie putt for a 6-under 65 that left her at 15-under 269.

Ryu hit a brilliant third shot to the green, but pushed her 6-footer at the 18th.

“Absolutely I’m disappointed I missed (that) birdie putt,” she said. “Sometimes if I get something lucky, then I get something that is unlucky. I just accept it and let it go.”

Ko was resilient, also shrugging aside a challenge from veteran Cristie Kerr, who pulled into a tie with her on the homeward nine.

Ko, who proudly bears the flag of her native New Zealand on her golf bag, started the final round in fifth place, three shots behind co-leaders Laura Diaz and Lee-Anne Pace.

Kerr, seeking her 17th career victory, shot 67 to finish three shots back in third, failed to apply pressure when she could not birdie the closing two par-5s.

WEB.COM TOUR: In Boise, Idaho, Steve Wheatcroft rolled in a 10-foot birdie putt on the first playoff hole to beat Steven Alker and win the Albertsons Boise Open on Sunday.

The pair battled back and forth at Hillcrest Country Club and were tied at 24 under after regulation play.

Wheatcroft watched as Alker’s 30-foot birdie try stopped a couple feet short of the cup and then stepped up and made his putt.

Evans resident Vaughn Taylor shot 68 in the final round and tied for 32nd.

TAHOE CELEBRITY: In Stateline, Nev., Mark Rypien beat out Jeremy Roenick and Annika Sorenstam to win the weather-delayed American Century Celebrity Golf Championship on Sunday.

Rypien took the title for the first time since winning the inaugural event in 1990.

Lightning storms delayed play for more than three hours.

Rypien ran away from Roenick and Sorenstam, putting up big Stableford points on his back nine, going 5 under for a record-breaking third-round total of 33 points and 76 throughout the three-day event at Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course.


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