COQUITLAM, B.C. – This time Lydia Ko can cash the winner’s cheque.
Ko needed a par on the first playoff hole to defeat American Stacy Lewis and win her third Canadian Pacific Women’s Open Sunday night.
“This feels amazing,” said Ko, 18, who finished at 12 under for her eighth career LPGA Tour victory and third this year. “I had an amazing week.”
Ko, who was born in Seoul, South Korea and raised in Auckland, New Zealand, was an amateur the first two times she won the Canadian Open, meaning the prize money went to the second-place finisher.
She was just 15 years old, and the youngest player to ever win an LPGA event, when she won in 2012 on the same Vancouver Golf Club course.
Ko’s share of the US$2.25-million purse is US$337,500.
“I feel the cheque is the last thing I am thinking about,” she said. “It’s great to be back in the winner’s circle.
“To play good golf in front of great crowds was one of the highlights of this week. I feel somewhat Canadian.”
Lewis, who started the day at 7 under, shot a blistering 5-under 67 to force the extra hole. She had six birdies but bogeyed No. 15.
Lewis ran into trouble in the playoff when her second shot landed in the crowd. She made a great chip to land on the green about nine feet from the hole. Needing par to force another hole, her putt stopped just at the edge of the cup, leaving Lewis staring in disbelief.
“If you would have told me at the beginning of the day I was going to be in a playoff, I would have been happy,” said the Woodlands, Texas, resident, who earned US$206,304.
“Just the way my game has been the last month or so I felt I was close to putting together a good round, and that’s what I did today. I still left a few out there.”
Ko pumped her fist after dropping her winning putt. She had set it up with a 50-foot putt from the edge of the green.
“Unfortunately Stacy missed the fairway,” said Ko, who is ranked No. 2 in the world. “I said ‘I have to just concentrate on my game.’
“I didn’t want to get too aggressive to that pin. If the putt was any longer for my second one I would have been really nervous.”
Ko began the day tied for the lead at 10 under and shot an even par 72.
She had a couple of chances to win the tournament, missing a nine-foot putt on No. 17. On No. 18 she came up less than two inches short on a 40-foot birdie putt.
“I only made one birdie today so that kind of says it all,” she said. “I missed a couple of greens.
“I am really happy when it really counted I was able to make those putts.”
It was the first playoff at the Canadian Open since 1993.
Teenager Brooke Henderson had her best round of the week, scoring four of her five birdies on the back nine to card a 5-under 67. The 17-year-old from Smiths Falls, Ont., was the top Canadian at 4 under, tied for 23rd.
It was a hectic week for Henderson, who won her first LPGA tournament last weekend.
“I wanted to show and give the crowd a little bit of excitement,” said Henderson, who collected US$22,816. “I think today I did that.”
Hamilton’s Alena Sharp had four bogeys and finished 1 over. She tied for 47th and earned US$8,003.
Maude-Aimee Leblanc, of Sherbrooke, Que., finished 12 over. She collected US$4,266 after tying for 74th.