BOCA RATON — Lydia Ko and Danielle Kang had squared off for two days and 35 holes on the Boca Rio Golf Club course, so standing on the 18th hole Sunday afternoon with a one-shot lead, Ko I had a thought in mind:
“Please, I don’t want to play this hole again.”
Despite driving her drive on the final hole of the 415-yard par 4 into a fairway bunker and her 5-iron approach into a greenside bunker, Ko avoided a sudden-death playoff with her good friend, raising and going down to achieve par and win. at the Gainbridge LPGA in Boca Rio.
The 24-year-old Ko shot rounds of 63-70-72-69 for a 14-under 274 to earn his 17th career win and $300,000 on a day that was forecast to be frigid by southern California standards. Florida, but it turned out to be magnificent. with cloudless blue skies, light winds, and temperatures in the upper 50s.
For Kang, whose second-place finish followed his victory in the season-opening Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions in Orlando, his four-under-par 68, like many of his putts on Sunday, fell short.
“I played some really good golf there. I made some quality shots, today and yesterday,” said Kang, who was tied with Ko at 11 under after two rounds and was paired with her on Saturday.
Ko shot par that day and Kang, who opened 65-68, shot 74 to start the final day two shots behind.
Lydia Ko kisses the trophy after winning the 2022 Gainbridge LPGA at Boca Rio Golf Club on January 30, 2022 in Boca Raton, Florida. (Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images)
Both players birdied the par-5 first hole, but Ko bogeyed the second and Kang birdied the third to tie it at 11-under. They both birdied the 11th, then Kang birdied the 12th to take the lead at 13 under.
Kang, 29, a California native living in Las Vegas, bogeyed the par-3 13th hole when she missed the green to the left, bowled but failed to convert the putt for par 5-footers. Ko regained the lead at 13-under with a birdie on the 15th. On the par-5 16th hole, Ko rolled his birdie attempt uphill, but Kang made a shorter, more groundbreaking birdie putt on top to stay close.
On the par 3 17th hole, Kang’s birdie putt stopped inches from the hole and Ko made two putts for par. On the 18th, Kang had about 20 feet to tie but slid past the hole.
“I felt like I was going to hole it. She made a really good putt today,” Ko said. “I feel like even the ones that didn’t go in had a pretty good chance of her making them.”
“The last hole, that was a big hit on that pin,” Kang said. “I made a great putt, but it didn’t break. The greens are really hard to read here.
“Three-foot shots were very difficult for me because the ball stayed in a hole. I hit two putts that were in a hole and they bounced and didn’t even hit the cup.”
Yuka Saso of Japan shot a 5-under 67, highlighted by birdies on the 17th and 18th holes, to finish third with a 12-under 276. France, who shot 69 playing with Ko and Kang.
“I played really well today,” said Hull, who had three birdies in his first nine and two birdies and a bogey in the back. “I started off pretty well and hit it close on the back nine on almost most holes. He just couldn’t get the putts in. I was making good shots, but I misunderstood them a little bit.”
Canadian Brooke Henderson, who shot 6-under in her first 10 holes with four birdies and an eagle, shot 68 to tie for sixth with Delray Beach’s Lexi Thompson at 7-under.
“The first nine were a lot of fun,” Henderson said. “We were making some birdies and I was really running around and trying to chase that lead as best I could. Turning around, it looked like if he could get a solid nine defense, he could post a low score in the clubhouse. Unfortunately, I didn’t end the way I wanted, but I definitely started the way I wanted.”
Jupiter’s Jessica Korda shot 71 to finish in a seven-all tie for 20th at 2 under that included her sister, Nelly, who will drop to No. 2 in the world rankings behind Jin Young Ko.
World Golf Hall of Famer Karrie Webb of Boynton Beach shot 74 to finish 4-plus, and Jupiter’s Jaye Marie Green also shot 74 to finish 9-plus.