Ko Wins Kia Classic Going Away

World's top-ranked golfer wins big in Carlsbad

When we encounter something in sports that’s an unknown we naturally try and compare it to something that’s familiar. Early in his career LeBron James was compared to Michael Jordan … Rory McIlroy was compared to Tiger Woods … Andrew Luck was compared to Peyton Manning.

It is here that Lydia Ko presents a problem. There is nothing to compare her to.

The New Zealander (who was born in South Korea) won the Kia Classic at Aviara Resort in Carlsbad on Easter Sunday by four shots over Inbee Park.

“Carlsbad is one of my favorite cities,” said Ko, and she didn’t mean that just because she took home the $255,000 championship check. “The people are great. I would love to live here. This tournament was flawless. All the players were having fun.”

Sometimes older golfers joke about being able to finish a round shooting their age. Ko is 18 years old and finished 19-under. I don’t know how many times a player has been able to shoot better-than-her-age under par for a championship before but I’m willing to bet it doesn’t happen every day.

Against one of the toughest fields on the LPGA Tour, Ko was far and away the best player on the course. She would have tied the tournament scoring record of 20-under, which was set a year ago by Cristie Kerr, but she called a penalty on herself on the 10th hole. Ko’s ball was sitting in a small hole and when she swung her putter it hopped out, striking the face of the club twice.

That bogey opened a small window for Park to try and steal a win. She closed to within a shot with birdies on 16 and 17 but just outside San Diego, Ko did her best Trevor Hoffman impersonation. She closed with three consecutive birdies to put the tournament away.

Ko now has 11 career LPGA Tour wins. Nobody else has ever won that many at the age of 18. Nobody has ever been ranked #1 in the world at her age. Nobody else has ever been as dominant as Lydia Ko as a teenager. She will return to Carlsbad in 2017 to defend her title.

Who knows how many trophies she’ll own by then?

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