Ko wins Gainbridge LPGA; Hovland takes Dubai Desert Classic
Boca Raton, Fla. — Lydia Ko pulled ahead with a birdie on the 15th hole and matched scores with Danielle Kang the rest of the way, closing with a 3-under 69 for a one-shot victory on a chilly Sunday in the Gainbridge LPGA at Boca Rio.
Ko won for the second straight season after enduring a three-year slump. The 24-year-old player from New Zealand and picked up the 17th victory of her LPGA Tour career.
Kang, who closed with a 68, was trying to win back-to-back for the second time in three years. She won the season-opening Tournament of Champions a week ago in Orlando.
U.S. Women’s Open champion Yuka Saso, now playing under the Japanese flag, birdied the last two holes for a 67 and finished two shots behind.
Ko finished at 14-under 274.
Nelly Korda closed with a 70 and tied for 20th, a result that is expected to drop her from No. 1 in the women’s world ranking. Jin Young Ko, who skipped both Florida events to stay home in South Korea, would return to No. 1.
The LPGA Tour now takes a one-week break before wrapping up its Florida swing at the LPGA Drive On Championship.
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Viktor Hovland beat Richard Bland with a birdie on the first playoff hole in the Dubai Desert Classic after Rory McIlroy bogeyed the final to finish a stroke back.
Hovland won for the third victory in five events. The Norwegian topped Bland with a birdie putt from inside 3 feet on the par-5 18th at Emirates Golf Club.
Hovland closed birdie-eagle-birdie for a 6-under 66. Bland, from England, birdied the last for a 68. They finished at 12 under.
McIlroy, tied for the lead with Hovland and Bland on the 18th hole, sent his approach from 267 yards into the water in front of the green. His par putt, which would have sent him into the playoff, brushed the edge of the cup. He shot 71.