YOU have to go back to Young Tom Morris winning the 1868 British Open to find a younger golf major winner than New Zealand’s pride and joy Lydia Ko.
Morris did it as a 17 year old, leaving Ko positively ancient at 18 years 4 months and 20 days.
Despite the tender years, Ko was ruthless on Sunday at the 2015 Evian Masters in France, shooting a flawless 8-under 63 to run down 20 year old rival Lexi Thompson down the stretch.
The 63 not only tied Ko’s own career low score, but was lowest final round by a winner in an LPGA major championship, previously held by Karen Stupples (64) at the 2004 Women’s British Open.
Ko turned up at the championship at Evian Les Bains knowing it was her final chance to beat the “youngest ever” female record set by Morgan Pressel at the 2007 Kraft Nabisco Championship at just 18 years, 10 months and 9 days.
She promptly shot all four rounds in the 60’s (69-69-67-63) to finish at 16-under par 268.
In the final round Thompson looked the one who might pull away after a birdie on the par-5 7th gave her a three stroke lead. But that turned out to be her last hurrah.
Showing her usual unflustered, stoic demeanour, Ko reeled off five birdies on the back nine to complement the three from the front.
She arrived at the 18th green with a five stroke lead. She had bogied the hole every day previously, but rolled in a 15 foot birdie putt just to make it all neat and official.
Afterward, Ko admitted to actually shedding a tear at her breakthrough major victory.
“Yeah, a couple teardrops,” said Ko. “I didn’t totally cry-cry. But I kind of got a little overwhelmed, and I could kind of feel tears coming when Jason [Hamilton, her caddie] said, enjoy the moment, coming down onto the green. I kind of felt back over the whole week and all the questions I’ve been asked. But in a way I was relieved. But to kind of have that putt go in, I think just everything dropped. I didn’t really know what was going to happen. I mean, it was so amazing, and just, I think, all feelings kind of went into me.”
Minjee Lee top Aussie
Australia’s Minjee Lee had another good major result, finishing on 4-under tied for 11th.
The 19 year old Perth teenager was well in contention at stages of the event, particularly late in the third round when she dropped her seventh birdie of the day at the 15th to reach 7-under, then just a couple of strokes off the lead. Unfortunately a double bogey on the last was a big momentum killer.
Lee had a steady start to her final round before a bogey on the 11th. A comeback eagle on 15 was negated by two late bogies.
Former champion and runner up last year Karrie Webb finished at 3-over tied for 38th.
2015 Evian Championship Highlights Video2015 Evian Championship Leaderboard