Sunday, March 01, 2015


It started as a procession, got very tight in the middle, and ended as a procession.
Kiwi golf star Lydia Ko has been crowned the New Zealand Women's Open champion for the second time in three years after strolling to victory at the Clearwater Golf Club in Christchurch.
The 17-year-old world No.1's margin of victory over Australian amateur Hannah Green was four shots but the final round wasn't without tension, if not for Ko then certainly for the large gallery following her every swing.
At one stage on the back nine a five-shot lead was cut to two as England's Charley Hull made a move and Ko had some wobbles.
But a three-shot swing on the 12th, when Ko made a 15-foot birdie and Hull double-bogeyed, essentially sealed the deal and the Kiwi was able to enjoy the run home.

She had New Zealand Prime Minister John Key for company; he joined the final group on the 12th – coincidentally just as Ko pulled away – and, wearing a bright green polo to contrast Ko's bright pink, he was all smiles, as were the thousands of punters who came out to support the local star.
For the record, Ko carded a one-under 71 in the final round, getting to 14-under for the 54-hole Ladies European Tour-ALPG tournament and winning by four shots from Green, who closed with a four-under 68 to get to 10-under.
Hull's charge faded as she closed with a 74 to tie for fourth at eight-under. Denmark's Nanna Koerstz Madsen (71) finished alone in third, at nine-under.
Ko pockets $44,400 for the win, she will retain her No. 1 world ranking, and makes it two wins in a stunning two-week stretch Down Under after claiming the LPGA Tour's Australian Open in Melbourne last Sunday.
Her second New Zealand triumph, two years after her first, is also her 10th win from 58 professional starts worldwide and, remarkably, her sixth since turning pro 16 months ago.
The field wasn't world class this week but Ko was for large chunks, particularly during her course record 11-under 61 in the second round, the lowest round of her career.
Her lead was three shots at the start of the final round but quickly jumped out to five after back-to-back birdies from short range at the first two holes.
It remained five after Ko and Hull traded birdies at the sixth, then Ko got some speed wobbles.
She double-bogeyed No 8 after hitting her second shot into the water from the middle of the fairway, bogeyed nine after over-hitting her tee shot and missed a short par-putt, and the lead was three.
It became two after the 10th, when Ko tapped in for a birdie but Hull made an eagle at the short par-five after a stunning iron from the left rough.
There were some nerves among the gallery but not Ko, who essentially ended the tournament at the 12th, with a 15-foot birdie to Hull's double-bogey after she got a flyer out of the rough and found the creek behind the green.

Scotland's Pamela Pretswell from Hamilton finished tied sixth on seven-under-par 209 alongside Charley Hull after a final round of 73 - Hull's closing score as a 75.
Pamela would have finished joint third but for a double bogey 5 at the short 16th.
In her final round, her length off the tee enabled her to birdie three par-5 holes, the second, the fifth and the 14th but she dropped shoes at the third and seventh before her late calamity.
Pretswell earned £4,800 for her performance.
She told by E-mail:
"Happy with my performance this week. Played well over all three rounds - the wind was strong today in the final round. Been working hard over the winter with my coach Alan Murdoch at Kings Acre in Edinburgh and nice to see the hard work paying off this week. "Looking forward to my next event in China for the World Ladies Championship. It's been great to start the season over here in Australia and New Zealand."
Another Scot, Michele Thomson, from Ellon finished T50 on 218. She too wound up with a 73.
Falkirk-based American Beth Allen, winner of the Ladies Tartan Tour championship last year, finished joint fourth on 208.

Par 216 (3x72)
202 Lydia Ko (NZ) 70 61 71
206 Hannah Green (Australia) (am) 68 70 68
207 Nanna Madsen (Denmark) 67 69 71
208 Marianne Skarpnord (Norway) 67 69 72, Beth Allen (US) 6867 73
209 Pamela Pretswell (Scotland) 69 67 73, Charley Hull (England) 70 64 75, Marta Sanz (Spain) 71 67 71, Amelia Lewis (US) 73 65 71

218 Michele Thomson (Scotland) 74 71 73 (T50).



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