The Gainbridge LPGA at Boca Rio was full of top-stars, with the likes of Danielle Kang, Charley Hull, Yuka Saso and Celine Boutier attempting to chase down overnight leader, Lydia Ko,
But, after multiple players fell by the wayside, it soon became a head-to-head battle between the close friends, Ko and Kang, with the duo swapping the top spot of the leaderboard regularly throughout the back nine.
In the end, it was Ko who claimed the title, with a crucial up-and-down at the last proving a pivotal point as the 24-year-old secured her 17th LPGA Tour title and moved a little bit closer to her goal of earning a place in the Hall of Fame.
"I have to obviously play well and win to collect those points for the Hall of Fame. All of those awards and accolades are great and not many people are there. If I could have my name alongside the many amazing legends that are in there then it would be a huge honour.
"I know that there are still things in my game that I want to improve and get better. When I'm out on the course playing, I am just trying to make as many birdies as possible and shoot the best score I can. Importantly though, I just enjoy being out here."
As cool as you like 😎Watch the sand save that secured Lydia Ko's 17th Tour victory! 👇 pic.twitter.com/tfow37h9pGJanuary 30, 2022
Beginning the final round two shots clear, Ko found her advantage wiped out within the space of six holes, with Kang carrying on her immense form of last week to draw level alongside her playing partner.
The pair remained at 11-under-par going into the back nine, but it was Kang who momentarily took the lead, with back-to-back birdies at the 11th and 12th giving her a one shot advantage.
Only a handful of holes later though, we saw the roles reversed, with Ko making birdies of her own at the 15th and 16th to take a one stroke lead going into the final holes.
With pars at the 17th, it was the New Zealanders to lose playing the par-4 last. However, it was far from over as Ko went from the fairway bunker to the greenside bunker for her second shot. That pressure was also ramped up, as her opponent stuck it to 10-foot with her approach.
Needing an up-and-down at the last, you couldn't have asked for a better player from the sand, with Ko sticking her bunker shot to a few inches from the hole and, when Kang pulled her putt left, it was up to Ko to tap-in for another LPGA Tour victory.
The win draws the 24-year-old up to ninth on the all-time career earnings list on the LPGA Tour, with the victory Ko's first since her endorsement deal ended with PXG at the turn of the year.
"I just tried to focus on me and play the best golf that I can", said Ko following her win. "At points it was a bit of a grind, but I'm glad I could get that done. Last year was a big turnaround year for me, as was the fall of 2020.
"It was time for me to look back and think what were the things I needed to work on, as well as taking a whole new approach to things. I started working with Sean (Foley) and he has been a huge help in the technical stand point and also a huge help in clearing the questions and the not so good thoughts in my head."
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Matt joined Golf Monthly in February 2021 covering weekend news, before also transitioning to equipment and testing. After freelancing for Golf Monthly and The PGA for 18 months, he was offered a full-time position at the company in October 2022 and continues to cover weekend news and social media, as well as help look after Golf Monthly’s many buyers’ guides and equipment reviews.
Taking up the game when he was just seven years of age, Matt made it into his county squad just a year later and continues to play the game at a high standard, with a handicap of around 2-4. To date, his best round came in 2016, where he shot a six-under-par 66 having been seven-under through nine holes. He currently plays at Witney Lakes in Oxfordshire and his favourite player is Rory McIlroy, despite nearly being struck by his second shot at the 17th during the 2015 BMW PGA Championship.
Matt’s current What’s In The Bag?
Driver: Honma TW747, 8.75°
Fairway Wood: TaylorMade Rocketballz Stage 2, 15°, 19°
Hybrid: Adams Super Hybrid, 22°
Irons: Mizuno MP54, 5-PW
Wedges: Cleveland 588 RTX 2.0 Tour Satin, 50°, 56°, 60°
Putter: Cleveland TFI 2135 Satin Cero
Ball: Titleist Pro V1x
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