Lydia Ko is back and it’s no surprise that she made her return to the top at Lake Merced Golf Club in Daly City.
The 21-year-old from New Zealand, who once was the No. 1 player in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings but had slipped to No. 18, sank a four-foot eagle putt after a brilliant approach shot on the first playoff hole to turn back Minjee Lee of Australia in the inaugural LPGA MEDIHEAL Championship.
“I hit some great 3-wood shots today and (on the last one) I just tried to copy the other one, and able to hit a good shot again, but I didn’t know how close it was,” said Ko, who claimed her 15th LPGA Tour victory and third at Lake Merced, but her first anywhere since the 2016 Marathon Classic
“It’s a pretty good feeling, but nerve-wracking, too. It’s crazy, I was 3-over at one time today, but told myself to focus and you never know what might happen. I was able to pull my game together on the back nine. When that last putt dropped, I just said, ‘Oh, my God.’
“There are a lot of emotions. I’m happy my family and whole team are here so we can celebrate together.”
Lee, who won the 2012 U.S. Girls Junior at Lake Merced, holed a bunker shot for a birdie on the 17th hole and birdied the last to complete an 4-under-par 68, and Ko needed a tap-in birdie at No. 18 for a 71 to catch Lee at 12-under 276.
Second-ranked Shanshan Feng of China closed with a 68 to finish four strokes back in a tie for third with Jessica Korda, who struggled to a 74, Angel Yin of Los Angeles, who shot 67, and Charley Hull of England, who wound up at 70.
Sixth-ranked Ariya Jutanugarn of Thailand totaled 68 to wind up five shots behind in a tie for seventh with Caroline Masson (68) of Germany, Aditi Ashok (69) of India, and Nasa Hataoka (69) of Japan.
Fourth-ranked So Yeon Ryu of South Korea tied for 18th after a 72, top-ranked Inbee Park of South Korea and third-ranked Lexi Thompson both posted 70s to tie for 31st, while eighth-ranked Cristie Kerr stumbled to a 75 and tied for 53rd.
For complete results, visit http://www.lpga.com/leaderboard.