Ko clinches first major title at ANA Inspiration; Conners wins - GulfToday

Ko clinches first major title at ANA Inspiration; Conners wins

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Corey Conners celebrates with his wife Malory Conners after winning the Texas Open on Sunday. Agence France-Presse

Reigning rookie of the year Ko Jin-young captured her first major championship on Sunday, holding off fellow South Korean Lee Mi-hyang to win the ANA Inspiration by three strokes.

The 23-year-old Ko finished in style by draining a long birdie putt on 18 for a two-under 70 final round in the first major of the season at the Mission Hills Country Club near Palm Springs, California.

Ko, who is in her second year, finished with a 10-under 278 total for her fourth LPGA title. She also won the Hope Founder’s Cup last month.

Ko celebrated her win by taking the traditional dip with her caddie Dave Brooker in Poppie’s Pond — the water hazard located off the right and back of the green on 18.

Lee finished alone in second after shooting a two-under 70 while American Lexi Thompson was third with a brilliant final round of 67 to reach a six-under 282 total.

Kim In-kyung and Carlota Ciganda, of Spain, tied for fourth at five under, five strokes back of Ko.

Ko started the round with a one shot lead. She played steady golf on the front nine with two birdies but saw her lead slip to just one stroke over Lee when she made bogey on the 15th hole. She landed her approach in the bunker and then two-putted on the green. It was her second bogey in three holes.

But Ko got one back by sinking a superb putt for a birdie on the par-four 16th. She parred 17 then iced the win with an emphatic 20 foot birdie putt on 18.

Not only is she the fifth South Korean to win here, Ko is the 15th in history to win a major. The only country that has more major wins is the United States.

In addition to the professionals, five amateur players competed in the event continuing a longstanding tradition of exemptions for top women amateurs.

Patty Tavatanakit, who is ranked third in the world, finished as the top amateur in the field after closing with a four under 68 a tie for 26th with nine others -- including fellow Thai Pornanong Phatlum.

Meanwhile, Canada’s Corey Conners delivered a roller coaster final round to win his first professional title at the Valero Texas Open on Sunday and book a fairytale berth at next week’s Masters at Augusta.

The 27-year-old from Ontario only made it into the San Antonio tournament after battling through qualifying last Monday, where he won a six-way playoff to claim the final slot in the field.

But the unheralded Canadian completed a remarkable week at TPC San Antonio’s AT&T Oaks Course by firing a six-under-par 66 to finish two shots clear of Charley Hoffman, with a 20-under-par total of 268.

With Sunday’s final round delayed by nearly two hours after heavy rain deluged the course, Conners quickly moved to the top of the leaderboard with four birdies in his opening five holes to eclipse overnight leader Kim Si-woo who struggled to get going.

Agence France-Presse

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