DALY CITY (AP) — Lydia Ko hit a 3-wood to 3 feet for eagle to finish off Minjee Lee on the first hole of a playoff Sunday in the chilly LPGA MEDIHEAL Championship
Ko won her 15th LPGA Tour title and first since July 2016, a 43-event stretch marked by changes in instructors, caddies and equipment and a large weight loss.
“My whole team and my family, they’ve worked really hard for this moment,” Ko said. “I’m happy that a few of them are here and we can celebrate together.”
Five days after turning 21, the New Zealander won for the third time at Lake Merced after taking the Swinging Skirts LPGA at the tree-lined layout in 2014 and 2015.
“It’s crazy because I was 3 over for the day at one stage and I said, ‘Hey, you’ve just got to focus and you never know what’s going to happen,’” Ko said. “I was able to kind of put my game together on the back nine. When that putt dropped, I was like, ‘Oh, my God.’”
Twenty yards behind Lee in the fairway on the par-5 18th in the playoff, Ko hit a 3-wood that cleared the tree limbs on the right, landed in front of the green and rolled inches by on the right side.
“I hit some really good 3-woods today and I said, ‘Hey, you’ve got to maybe try and copy the one on the other par 5,” Ko said. “I was able to hit a good shot again. I didn’t really know how close it was going to be.”
Lee, the 21-year-old Australian who won the 2012 U.S. Girls’ Junior at Lake Merced, hit her second shot into the rough near the right greenside bunker and made a 10-foot birdie putt.
Ko closed with a 1-under 71 to match Lee at 12-under 276. Lee had her second straight 68.
Ko holed a flop shot for birdie on the par-4 13th, two-putted for birdie on the par-5 15th and matched Lee with an up-and-down birdie on the 18th to force the playoff.
Playing in the group ahead of Ko and Jessica Korda, Lee holed out from a greenside bunker for birdie on the par-3 17th.
Korda, a stroke ahead of Ko and Lee with nine holes left, finished with a 74 to drop into a tie for third at 8 under with Angel Yin (67), Shanshan Feng (68) and Charley Hull (70).