Ko fires the round of the day
Lydia Ko put a ball in the water on her second hole of the day – en route to a bogey – but was still able to fire an 8-under-par 64 Saturday, the round of the day at the LOTTE Championship.
Ko, who finished tied for second, admitted she knew she was going to have to play ‘amazing’ if she was going to come all the way back and win the golf tournament.
With eight birdies in her final 12 holes, she made a valiant effort to do just that.
“Going into the day eight shots behind, there is a huge difference between eight and five, for example,” she said. “With how the girls are playing, it’s just really hard to mend the gap. Considering where I was after the first day, I’m pleased with where I finished.”
Ko explained she has been struggling with the putter so far in 2017, but things clicked nicely during Saturday’s final round in Hawaii.
“I’ve been playing solid, but not a lot has come together the last few events,” she explained. “Even my top 10 finishes I had earlier in the season I was struggling with the putter. It was definitely nice to be able to putt a lot better this week, even though I wasn’t hitting the ball as good. It helps when you know you’re able to make the par and birdie putts, and have the opportunities.”
Michelle Wie finishes strong at home
Although it wasn’t the tournament Michelle Wie would have liked while playing in front of a hometown crowd, her final round 68 on Saturday was her best of the week. And, she did it with plenty of onlookers.
“All my friends came out today. I just couldn’t get anything going along the last three days, so it was nice to make some birdies finally. I came out of the gates pretty hot, so it’s always fun to shoot 4-under par,” she said.”
Wie, the 2014 LOTTE Championship presented by Hershey winner, birdied five of her first 13 holes before making a late bogey and dropping into a tie for 39th.
“It’s been a lot of fun,” she said of the week overall. “It’s always fun to play in front of a home crowd on your home course. What more can you ask?”
Wie will have a couple of extra days on the island before heading back to the United States. A noted foodie, Wie admitted Saturday she was excited to eat “all the food” she could before heading home.
“I’m excited to get back home to Florida and unpack my suitcases. It’s been a five-week road trip, and it’ll be nice to come home and just sleep in my own bed,” she stated.
Danielle Kang notches second top-10 finish of the year
Danielle Kang rode a blistering 6-under-par 30 on her front nine Saturday to a tie for ninth, her second top 10 of the year.
Kang started her day with a birdie, and made five more – plus an eagle – in her first 15 holes. She made two bogeys on No’s 16 and 18, but, her hot start gave her the finish she needed.
“It’s great to finish with a 66 on the final day and move up the leaderboard. I got off to a hot start and tried to get the ball constantly rolling to the hole,” she said. “I left a couple short at the beginning but tried to keep the momentum going. It was a fun day. “
After a birdie on No.13, Kang was within two shots of the lead. She stumbled slightly coming in – knocking her approach on the 72nd hole in the water – but rallied well to eventually notch a top-10 finish.
“I looked at the leaderboard and I needed to finish top 10. I looked at it and was like, ‘you don’t want to finish with a double (bogey) after a great start. You want to make a really good bogey.’ That’s all I could ask for,” she explained.
Alena Sharp records season-best finish
Canadian Alena Sharp was hanging around the top of the leaderboard all day long, but just eventually ran out of holes up against the Cristie Kerr buzz-saw.
Still, after three-straight missed cuts, Sharp - who had a bit of an up-and-down day with five birdies and three bogeys – finished at 16-under, and was alone in fifth.
“I started off really well. Adrenaline was flowing,” she said. “I was right there all day.”
Sharp made an unfortunate bogey on the 72nd hole, but explained that wasn’t going to impact her attitude moving forward.
“It sucks to end the tournament like that. It was nice to be in that position and know that I could do it though,” she said. “I was in there all day and never gave up. I just kept fighting, and kept hitting it close and trying to make those putts.”
Sharp’s countrywoman Brooke Henderson (who finished tied for 11th) said she and Sharp push each other on the course, and just being able to watch Sharp, play practice rounds with her, and get some knowledge around LPGA Tour life has been great.
“She’s been an amazing friend to both my sister (Brittany) and I. She took us under her wing when we made it on Tour a couple years ago. I’m really excited for her this week. If she pulls it off that’s great, but if she ends up near the top of the leaderboard, she fought really hard and I’m really proud of her,” said Henderson just prior to the conclusion of Saturday’s final round.