Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Lydia Ko, 18, becomes youngest LPGA two-time major winner

RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. — Lydia Ko took advantage of Ariya Jutanugarn's late collapse to win the ANA Inspiration on Sunday for her second straight major victory, becoming at 18 the youngest two-time major winner in LPGA history.

Ko became the second teenager, male or female, to win two majors. Young Tom Morris won two in 1869, when the course was 12 holes.

The win also was Ko's second straight on the tour.

Ko, ranked No. 1 in the world, hit an 88-yard wedge shot to a foot on the par-5 18th hole to set up her winning birdie and a victory leap into Poppie's Pond. After starting the day tied for second, one shot back of leader Lexi Thompson, she closed with 3-under 69 to finish at 12-under 276.

"This is an unbelievable moment," Ko said before jumping into the pond. "It has always been my dream to play on the LPGA Tour. For these amazing things to be happening, it is unbelievable, but it also motivates me to work harder."

Jutanugarn had a two-stroke lead at 13 under with three holes to play. The 20-year-old Thai player bogeyed all three holes. She three-putted the par-4 16th, failed to get up-and-down from a bunker on the par-3 17th and hooked her drive into the water on 18. Jutanugarn finished with 71 and in fourth at 10 under.

"I really get nervous, especially being my first time leading," Jutanugarn said. "Next time it's going to be so much fun to be there."

Charley Hull (69) and In Gee Chun (70) finished a stroke behind Ko.

Thompson eagled the last hole for 73 to finish fifth at 9 under. The 2014 winner had three front-nine bogeys in her birdie-free round.

"Just overall tough day," Thompson said.

Defending champion Brittany Lincicome of Seminole shot 74 and was 2 under.

Ko won the final major last season, the Evian Championship in September in France; she is the first player since Inbee Park in 2013 to win consecutive majors. Last week Ko won the Kia Classic in Carlsbad, Calif. The New Zealander has 12 tour victories, the most by a player 18 or younger in tour history; everyone else has a combined 11.

"Fun is the key," said Ko, who turns 19 April 24. "I think fun is underrated."

Agent: Tiger will return this year: Tiger Woods' agent, Mark Steinberg, said he "absolutely" expects Woods, rehabilitating from back surgery, to return to competition this year. "But there's no timetable,'' he said.

PGA: Jim Herman, winless in 105 previous starts on tour, shot 4-under 68 for a one-shot victory at the Houston Open that sent him to this week's Masters for the first time. Herman, who shared the third-round lead with Jamie Lovemark, totaled 15-under 273 for a one-shot win over Henrik Stenson (68). Dustin Johnson (69) was two shots back. Lovemark shot 76 and was 7 under.

Champions: Miguel Angel Jimenez shot 8-under 64 to win the Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic by two shots in Saucier. Jimenez started the day in third, three shots behind leader Scott Dunlap. But he took control with a bogey-free round to hit 14-under 202. Dunlap finished in second place after shooting 69.

ESPN and the Golf Channel contributed to this report.