HGV Tournament of Champions: Lydia Ko wins 20th title at LPGA Tour opener | Golf News

HGV Tournament of Champions: Lydia Ko wins 20th title at LPGA Tour opener | Golf News

New Zealand’s Lydia Ko is a winner once again, opening the 2024 LPGA Tour season by claiming the Tournament of Champions title.

Ko was a 36-hole co-leader and finished the third round with a two-stroke lead. Her two-under-par 70 in Sunday’s final round was enough to finish at 14-under 274 for the week at Lake Nona Golf and Country Club.

Alexa Pano (70) started and finished the day two shots behind Ko and placed second at 12 under. Canada’s Brooke Henderson, the defending champion, was third at 10 under after a 68.

The event was exclusive to players who have won on the LPGA Tour in the past two seasons. Ko was in the field on the strength of three victories in 2022, but she did not win an official event stateside in 2023.

Now the 26-year-old has her 20th career LPGA title. She is the seventh to reach the mark before turning 27.

“I think the finish that I had last year, not only winning Grant Thornton (a mixed-team exhibition) but I played really well in Korea and in Malaysia,” said Ko, who lives in Orlando.

“Maybe if I had found the keys that I found then a little earlier, maybe I could have had a better season.

“I think if you keep going down a spiral of thinking like ‘what if’, it’s endless. I worked hard in the two weeks leading up to this event. To win at home has been nice.”

Ko’s lead was not seriously threatened after she birdied the sixth, ninth and 10th to move to 15 under before her first bogey at the par-five 11th. Pano struggled out of the gate, with two bogeys and two birdies over her first 15 holes.

After gaining the solo lead after the third round, Ko put in a dominant fourth-round display

By the time Pano birdied the 16th and 17th, it was too little, too late. Ko birdied the 15th before a closing bogey.

Henderson had her best round of the week, with all four of her birdies coming in a five-hole stretch from the seventh, while she stayed bogey-free.

“The game plan was to try and climb the leaderboard as much as possible, stick to the game plan,” Henderson said. “To shoot minus-four in these conditions, I’m really happy with. It was very cold and very windy.”

Cheyenne Knight (69), Ally Ewing (72) and Japan’s Ayaka Furue (71) tied for fourth at eight under. Rose Zhang started her first full season on tour with a tied-seventh finish with England’s Charley Hull, as both players shot 71 and finished seven under.

Scotland’s Gemma Dryburgh (73) finished a shot further back on six under, with Leona Maguire of Ireland (68) tying for 12th place on four under.

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