New Zealand’s Lydia Ko cruised to victory Sunday after shooting a seven-under-par 65 for an aggregate of 268 in the $2 million Fubon LPGA Taiwan Championship.
The 18-year-old, who turned professional in October 2013, became the youngest player in LPGA Tour history to secure 10 wins. She also became the first player to win five times this season.
With her victory, Ko is projected to take over the No1 spot from South Korea’s Park Inbee in the Women’s World Golf Rankings.
“To become world No1 during the season, it’s been great. And to have won my first professional event as a professional here in Taiwan and then had my 10th LPGA win here, it’s pretty cool,” she said. “It’s an exciting time.”
Ko, who overtook halfway leader Ji Eun-Hee of South Korea on Saturday, kept widening her lead yesterday as rain that had hampered play in the first three rounds halted.
Despite a bogey on the par-three seventh hole, Ko netted four birdies in the front nine, and in the back nine added two others and an eagle in the par-five hole 12.
The stellar performance left her nine strokes above Ji and fellow South Korean Ryu So-Yeon, who tied for second place with 277.
“Everyone talks about how young she is… she’s still a teenager, so it’s really hard to believe how she played,” Ryu said.
Britain’s Charley Hull carded a two-under-par 70 for an aggregate 278 and solo fourth place. Norway’s Suzann Pettersen came in fifth after firing a four-under par 68 for a total of 279.
World number seven Justin Rose needed all his experience Sunday to win a tight battle against Denmark's Lucas Bjerregaard and triumph in the Hong Kong Open by just one shot.
Former US Open winner Rose started the final day tied for the lead with 285th-ranked Bjerregaard, but a double bogey by the young Dane late in the round derailed his challenge.
Englishman Rose, 35, is the first from his country to win the tournament since Ian Poulter in 2010. He finished with a 17 under par 263, which could see him bumped up to fifth in the world rankings.
The unheralded Bjerregaard, aged 24, finished just one shot behind him with a 16 under par 264.
"I'm absolutely delighted to come out on top today," Rose told reporters after the tournament, which was also his first European Tour victory on Asian soil. "Starting the day, there was obviously Lucas and I ahead of the pack and that's very much how it finished, so it really turned out to be a head-to-head battle between myself and Lucas."
Rose remained patient in the final, even when he dropped a shot on the par-four 9th and Bjerregaard jumped into the lead by two with a birdie.
The Englishman made a comeback on the back nine after the par-four 14th when Bjerregaard hit the ball into the trees and then three-putted for the double bogey.
By the 18th Rose was two strokes ahead, and even had the luxury of three-putting the last par-four hole, laughing as the crowds cheered him on.
"It was tight the whole day… I just kept my nose in front right at the end," he said. "I had a lot of good putts from 14… that was the turning point."
Bjerregaard, who had led for much of the first half, said he was happy with the way he played and Rose was a tough competitor.
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"It was fun to battle with Justin these last two days, it's guys like him I want to compete against. At least I gave him a bit of a scare," he said.
Aside from the 14th, he added that he had kept his cool for much of the day.
"I was more nervous last night just thinking about going out and playing against him."
Tied for third place were Soomin Lee, Patrick Reed, Matthew Fitzpatrick and Jason Scrivener — all finishing with an 11 under par 269.
Korea's Yang Yong-Eun, the only Asian-born man to win a major, came joint seventh alongside Lin Wen-tang, Asian Tour Order of Merit leader Anirban Lahiri and Matt Ford.
Rose's European Ryder Cup teammates Graeme McDowell and Ian Poulter, both of whom had been hoping for strong performances, ended with five and six under par respectively, putting McDowell in tied 24th place and Poulter in joint 29th overall.
It was particularly disappointing for Poulter, who had to win in Hong Kong if he wanted to qualify for the WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai. He had made a mad dash to Hong Kong to retain his European Tour membership.
Pre-tournament favourite Justin Rose set the early clubhouse target in the UBS Hong Kong Open on Friday, but admits he is wary of the challenge posed by Ryder Cup team-mate Ian Poulter.
Rose and Poulter both shot 66 in the second round at Fanling to finish nine and seven under par respectively, with Denmark's Lucas Bjerregaard on eight under after his second consecutive 66.
Poulter dropped out of the world's top 50 on Sunday and was therefore ineligible for his planned appearance in the upcoming WGC-HSBC Champions event in Shanghai, meaning he would be unable to play the 13 events required for European Tour membership.
Only members can qualify for Europe's Ryder Cup team and that meant the 39-year-old was forced into a frantic journey from Orlando to Hong Kong – via New York – but only after former US PGA champion Rich Beem generously agreed to give the Englishman his tournament invite.
"Poulter is a past champion is and he's on the leaderboard," Rose said. "He's always good when he's got something to prove and he's probably a dangerous guy now that he's outside the top 50 in the world, and I know that he'll be desperate to get back in it.
"He always plays well when he has motivation, so he's obviously going to be tough to beat."
As for his own form, world number seven Rose carded five birdies and his first bogey of the week before seeking treatment for a minor hip problem.
"I felt like I struggled with the recovery overnight," added the former US Open champion, who played in the Frys.com Open in California last week.
"I just felt like my body was sore this morning and today was definitely more of a struggle than yesterday. I don't know what it is. My left hip is really sore. A bit of physio and relaxing this afternoon, and I'll try and figure that out. Maybe I wasn't quite clearing through the ball as well as yesterday but I'll be fine."
Poulter, who only arrived in Hong Kong at 7pm on Wednesday, carded six birdies and two bogeys as he looks to win the Hong Kong Open for the second time.
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"I got a decent amount of sleep last night, which is always handy," Poulter said.
"I fell asleep at 7.45 and I wasn't looking forward to what time I was going to wake up, but I managed to get through to 4am.
"There's a lot of good golf in there. I'm very happy and obviously it's nice to be in this position. I don't play to take part, I obviously play to win. Even coming in as late as I did, focusing on shooting a good score was really key. And I know this golf course. I've shot 60 around here before."
Rose was briefly joined at the top of the leaderboard when Taiwan's Lu Wei -chih carded a hat-trick of birdies from the 17th, having started from the 11th on the composite course.
However, the 36-year-old then ran up a double-bogey seven on the third and eventually had to settle for a 69 to finish alongside Poulter on seven under.
The biggest threat to Rose's lead now looked to be from Italy's Andrea Pavan, who shared the overnight lead with Lu and was seven under with five holes remaining.
British Masters winner Matt Fitzpatrick was three off the lead after firing four birdies in the last seven holes for a second consecutive 67.