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.
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 earnings on the LPGA Tour. Ko is roughly 17 months younger than Lexi Thompson, previously the youngest. Ko, a tour rookie, has 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 also shrugged aside a challenge from veteran Cristie Kerr, who pulled into a tie with her on the homeward nine.
Ko started the final round in fifth place, three shots behind co-leaders Laura Diaz and Lee-Anne Pace.
While they foundered, she crept up the leader board with birdies at holes 3 and 4. She tied for the top spot with a 12-foot birdie putt at the par-3 eighth, then took a solo lead for the first time after hitting her approach to 10 feet at the 10th.
Kerr, seeking her 17th career victory, rolled in a left-to-right breaker from 15 feet at the 13th to pull even. But her approach on the 399-yard, par-4 15th missed left and settled into heavy rough. She muscled the pitch shot onto the green but it rolled 6 feet past and she lipped out the par putt.
Kerr, who shot a 67 to finish three shots back in third, failed to apply pressure when she could not birdie the closing two par-5s.
I had a good/bad week, she said. I didn’t play 17 and 18 well all week. If you’re going to win here you have to take advantage of those holes.