Ko holds on for 1st major victory, wins ANA by 3 shots

Ko Jin-young tees off on the sixth hole during the final round of the ANA Inspiration tournament. (Reuters pic)

RANCHO MIRAGE: Ko Jin-young clinched her first major victory when she fended off a challenge from fellow South Korean Lee Mi-hyang for a three-stroke triumph at the ANA Inspiration in Rancho Mirage, California on Sunday.

Ko had a one-shot lead with three holes to play following two quick bogeys, but a perfectly-judged 10-foot birdie putt at the 16th proved the decisive blow at Mission Hills.

She clinched in style with another birdie at the last for a two-under-par 70, bursting into tears when the putt fell.

Ko, last year’s LPGA Rookie of the Year, finished at 10-under 278, while Lee carded 70 for second place on seven-under, a shot ahead of American Lexi Thompson (67).

Ko became the fifth Korean winner of the event after Grace Park (2004), Yoo Sun-young (2012), Park In-bee (2013) and Ryu So-yeon (2017).

She is the 15th woman from Korea to win a major, the most of any country other than the United States.

The 23-year-old said she had been dreaming of winning the event for five years and had always wanted to make the traditional winner’s jump into Poppie’s Pond.

“I always think about when I can go in that pond,” she added. “That’s today.”