Lydia Ko took her one-woman show to Taipei, Taiwan, over the weekend and the reviews were, well, what one has come to expect from the LPGA’s newest leading lady.
Who isn’t raving these days about Ko? She won the LPGA Taiwan Championship by nine strokes on Sunday, a victory that allowed her to regain No. 1 in the Rolex Ranking. It was her fifth win of the year and third in a roll that evokes the best of women’s golf over the last couple of decades, including Annika Sorenstam, Lorena Ochoa and Inbee Park.
In her last five starts, Ko, a New Zealand native, won the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open, won the Evian Championship, tied for second in the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia, tied for fourth in the LPGA KEB-HanaBank Championship and won in Taiwan.
She also became the youngest in LPGA history to reach 10 victories, doing so at 18 years, six months, or 3 ½ years earlier than Nancy Lopez won for the 10th time.
Yet more impressive than her dominance was her seeming reluctance to make it about herself. On Friday morning, she awoke to the news of the death of Patsy Hankins, former president of New Zealand Golf and among the first women given membership to the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews.
“I think I was really playing for Patsy this week,” Ko said. “I think just hearing that on Friday morning broke my heart. She was such a huge factor in my life, in my junior golf. That she had passed away was very hard to hear before you’re entering a round. But I kind of just played for her the last three days, and I’m so happy that I can bring this win to her and her family.”
Even on Sunday morning, her first thought was not about the final round ahead of her, but how New Zealand’s rugby team had fared in its World Cup semifinal match.
“First thing I did waking up on Sunday morning was checking the results from RSAvsNZ match! Sooooo excited for the Finals! Go @AllBlacks,” she Tweeted.
Ko took a four-shot lead into the final round, then birdied four of the first six holes, leaving only the margin of victory in doubt. Her final-round of seven-under par 65 gave her a 72-hole total of 20-under par 268.
Among those to weigh in Tweeting congratulations, with emojis, was Greg Norman.