Lydia Ko didn’t take long to claim her first title as a professional.
The 16-year-old from New Zealand won the Swinging Skirts World Ladies Masters Sunday in Taiwan in just her second start as a pro. She beat a very strong field to take home a $150,000 first-place check.
Three shots behind So Yeon Ryu early in the round, Ko ended up winning by three shots at Linkou Miramar Golf & Country Club in New Taipei. Ko beat a field that included four of the top seven players in the world rankings. Ko closed with a 4-under-par 68 to finish at 11 under overall.
“I didn’t know I’d do it this quickly,” Ko told reporters of her first title as a pro. “I’m just so fortunate to do it at such a great tournament. I was nervous, but I just said to myself, `Concentrate on your game.’”
Ko overtook Rolex world No. 1 Inbee Park after the first round and world No. 5 Ryu after the second round. Ko is projected to climb from No. 6 to No. 4 in the newest Rolex world rankings set to be released on Monday.
Ryu (73) finished second, Park (70) finished third. American Paula Creamer (68) tied for sixth. So did Taiwan’s Yani Tseng (68), who was making her first start since hernia surgery. Germany’s Sandra Gal (71) also tied for sixth.
The Swinging Skirts World Ladies Masters is a co-sanctioned event on the Taiwan LPGA and Korean LPGA tours.
Ko made her pro debut last month, tying for 21st at the CME Group Titleholders to win $16,063. Her next start is scheduled for the 2014 LPGA season opener, the Pure Silk Bahamas Classic, Jan. 23-26. She will attend rookie orientation there.
Sunday’s victory was the fifth professional event Ko has won.
“Lydia is someone that everyone will talk about for a long, long time,” Guy Wilson, Ko’s coach, told New Zealand’s One News.