Ko breaks three-year drought with Hawaii win

Lydia Ko during the final round of the LPGA Lotte Championship in Hawaii on Saturday. Photo:...
Lydia Ko during the final round of the LPGA Lotte Championship in Hawaii on Saturday. Photo: Getty Images
After 57 tournaments and 1084 days, New Zealand golfer Lydia Ko is back on top.

The 23-year-old broke her title drought, storming away with the Lotte Championship in Hawaii on Saturday.

She ruthlessly clinched victory by seven shots with a final-round seven-under 65 to finish at 28-under - the second-best score in LPGA Tour history.

It was a performance that had become so routine during the start of Ko's glistening career, when she won 19 times before turning 21, but had rarely been seen since, as she shuffled between coaches and caddies while looking a shell of her former world No 1 self.

However, under coach Sean Foley, Ko has shown consistent signs of being back to her best, with her results in four events in 2021 including two second-places and a tie for eighth.

One of those runner-up finishes - at the ANA Inspiration major two weeks ago - included a stunning 10-under 62 in her final round, the surest sign before this week that Ko was a force to be reckoned with once again.

In 2020, Ko claimed five top 10 finishes and four further top 20 finishes. One of those close calls was a second place in August at the Marathon Classic, where Ko lost a five-shot lead with six holes to play in the final round, having led the field over the first three days.

There would be no repeat of those scenes in Hawaii.

Leading by one going into the final round, Ko slowly broke away from her only close contender, Nelly Korda, extending her lead to three strokes after eight holes, before further superb wedge shots increased that lead to five through 10 holes.

While several other players went low, including South Korean duo Inbee Park and Jenny Shin, who both shot 63, they started too far back to bother Ko, who had just one bogey during the tournament to seal a dominant victory.

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