Ko wins at Lake Merced with playoff eagle

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.

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