Christchurch, New Zealand – Lydia Ko became the youngest player to ever win a Ladies European Tour event on Sunday when she drained a 3-foot par putt on the final hole at the ISPS Handa NZ Women's Open.
Ko, 15, bested American Amelia Lewis by a single stroke to earn her third professional win in just 12 events. The world's top-ranked amateur, who won in Australia and Canada in 2012, carded a final-round 68 and finished at 10-under 206.
"[This win] is at the top," said Ko. "It is the national open and I came so close in the last three years. This topped it off. The New South Wales Open and the Canadian Open were obviously great wins as well."
An overnight co-leader, Ko surrendered her advantage on the final day to Lewis and Australian Stacey Keating.
Lewis turned in six birdies and an eagle against a single bogey over her first 13 holes to move a stroke ahead of the amateur, but Ko rebounded with a birdie on the 15th to pull even.
Keating dropped out of contention when she 3-putted for bogey on the par-4 last, but Lewis was safely on the green in two as Ko observed from the right- hand rough.
When Lewis 3-putted for bogey, Ko seized the opportunity. She dropped her approach within 25 feet and, after sending her first putt three feet past, broke into tears as she drained the comeback effort to wrap up the historic win.
"I didn't cry at the Canadian Open so I don't know why I cried here," admitted Ko, who became the first Kiwi to win the New Zealand Women's Open. "I guess it meant more. It is our national open so to win means a lot. I am not the person who shows expression of feeling but I guess the tears showed it."
Lewis recorded a final-round 66 and ended at 9-under, while Keating (67) finished at minus-8.