NAPLES: New Zealand teen Lydia Ko parred the fourth playoff hole to beat Carlota Ciganda and win the LPGA Tour Championship, completing a $1.5 million haul on Sunday (Monday in Manila) that included a season points crown.
Ko tapped in for par on the final extra hole after her Spanish rival buried her approach under a bush, giving the Seoul-born 17-year-old her third title of her first full LPGA season.
“This has been a big year, a roller coaster ride,” Ko said.
It will be hard for Ko to top the richest payday in women’s golf history, the $500,000 tournament top prize and the $1 million season points bonus.
Ko, Paraguay’s Julieta Granada and Ciganda each finished 72 holes on 10-under par 278 to force a playoff, staged entirely on the 18th hole at Tiburon Golf Club.
Ko had already clinched the LPGA season points bonus prize, edging American Stacy Lewis for the big payoff by virtue of her top-three finish, but had another fight to win the season-ending event.
All three parred the first playoff hole but Granada lipped out a three-foot par putt on the second extra trip to the 18th, leaving Ko and Ciganda to fight for the crown.
On the third extra visit to the course’s second-hardest hole of the week, Ciganda dropped her approach six feet from the hole. Ko came up inches short from 30 feet but Ciganda missed right of the cup and both parred to extend the drama.
On the fourth playoff hole, Ciganda’s approach trickled down a slope and under a lakeside bush in a hazard beyond the green. She took a drop and was well short with a chip. Ko then two-putted from 25 feet for the title.