WELLINGTON: Canadian Brooke Henderson excelled in appalling conditions to win the New Zealand Women’s Open Monday, as hometown favorite Lydia Ko faltered in the stormy weather that forced the LPGA event into a fifth day.
Henderson, who was leading when wild winds stopped play at Auckland’s Windross Farm on Sunday, took charge when her interrupted final round resumed, showing remarkable consistency despite the conditions.
The world number 12 carded a three-under 69 to finish the tournament on 271, five shots ahead of China’s Jing Yan in second place.
Korea’s Hee Young Park finished third on 277, while American Jennifer Song seized fourth after an impressive 68 in her final round.
Former world number one Ko, the defending champion, ended with a share of 22nd place on 283 after a horror run saw her drop five shots on her final two holes.
Ko, who has not won an LPGA event since July last year, said playing in front of her home crowd “gave me goosebumps”.
But it failed to improve the 20-year-old’s recent run of poor form as she double-bogied the 17th and then triple-bogied the 18th.
“I played really solid pretty much apart from the last two holes,” she said. “It was a tough finish but overall my game was solid.
“I had hoped a few more putts would have dropped but I think I am saying that almost every week. There’s always something left to improve.”
She was not the only player unsettled by the bad weather and delays, with round three leader Spain’s Belen Mozo shooting a six-over final round of 78 to finish tied on fifth.
Henderson, 20, said the conditions were the most difficult she had played in.
“I feel mentally drained by it but running on adrenalin to know this trophy is mine,” she said.
“This is so amazing to get my first win outside of North America, my fifth win on the LPGA Tour, it is incredible.”
The $1.3 million tournament is the first LPGA event to be staged in New Zealand.
It was previously co-sanctioned by the Ladies European Tour, with Ko winning in 2016, 2015 and 2013.