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Lydia Ko wins LPGA Lotte Championship

                                Lydia Ko drives off the 14th tee during the final round.


    Lydia Ko drives off the 14th tee during the final round.

Lydia Ko has become a believer in destiny. And it only took a four-hole birdie binge for many to be convinced it was in her future to win her first LPGA tournament in three years, at Kapolei Golf Club today.

“It’s kind of the mindset I took. I said to myself, Hey, I feel like the winner’s already chosen but we obviously don’t know, so I’m just going to go out there and play the best golf I can and see where I finish at the end of the day,” Ko said after winning the Lotte Championship in record-breaking fashion.

She shot 65 in today’s final round, capping a career best 28-under par tournament performance.

Ko won going away, by seven strokes. Inbee Park, Sei Young Kim, Nellie Korda and Leona Maguire tied for second.

Ko started the day with a 2-shot lead ahead of Korda, and several other players were within striking range. But Ko never faltered in a bogey-free round, and steadily pulled away for her 16th LPGA win and first since 2018.

“You know, I’m happy with a second finish,” Korda said. “You never complain finishing second in a tournament. Left a lot out there, but Lydia played so well. It was her time.”

The two-time major winner’s previous best 72-hole tournament score was 22-under 266 at the 2016 Founders Cup — where Ko finished second to 27 under posted by Kim, one of the players who was trying to chase her down today.

Today, Kim shot eagle 3 on No. 7 to pull within three shots of Ko, but the 2014 Lotte champion did not get closer after that.

Park played the last six holes today in 6 under to finish with a 63 for the day, but ran out of holes, and Ko stayed steady.

Consistently excellent approach shots provided Ko with numerous birdie opportunities, which she capitalized on.

When Ko birdied No. 9 to make the turn at -23 for the tournament, six players were tied for second.

But they were four shots behind, and Ko never let up; three more birdies in a row after the turn put her in complete control.

This marked Ko’s 11th round under par in her last 12, including a 10 under at the ANA Inspiration where she rallied in the final round to finish second.

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