Lydia Ko romped to a dominant five-shot victory at the Saudi Ladies International on Sunday.
The New Zealand golfer shot a final round bogey-free seven-under 65 to win on 23-under par ahead of Thailand’s 18-year-old Atthaya Thitikul.
World No. 7 Ko began Sunday four shots ahead of the pack after a stunning round of 63 on Saturday to equal the Royal Greens Golf & Country Club course record.
And three birdies in the opening seven holes solidified the two-time major winner’s lead, before an eagle on the ninth and birdies on 10 and 13 sealed the victory.
Her victory at the event, which boasts one of the richest prizes on the Ladies European Tour (LET) schedule (a $1 million USD prize fund), is her second of the season.
“When I was out there, I was just trying to play the best golf that I can,” the 24-year-old said. “I knew a lot of the top names were playing really well and this is a golf course where there’s a fair amount of birdies, so I was just trying to have my fair share of them and have fun out there.
“It helps when you’re going into the final round with a four-shot cushion, you could shoot the same score as others, but you have those shots from the last three days.
“I birdied the first hole and holed two really good putts for par on two and three which really set the momentum up, and from there, I tried not to look back and just go forward.”
In finishing second at the Saudi Ladies International, 18-year-old Thitikul etched her name in the history books.
She further extended her lead at the top of the Race to Costa del Sol’s standings to clinch the 2021 title with two events still to play.
The Race to Costa del Sol is a season-long competition to crown the LET’s number one player.
And with a point total of 3,264.46, she has more than double the tally of second-placed Sanna Nuutinen, who finished joint ninth in Saudi Arabia, on 1,570.27 points.
In doing so, she became the youngest winner of the competition in its history.
“It’s an honor and it’s a really amazing feeling to win the Race to Costa del Sol this year in my rookie season as well, words can’t really describe it,” she said.
Thitikul has had somewhat of a breakthrough year this season, surging into the top 30 in the world rankings.
After finishing second, she admitted Ko was streaks ahead of her at the Saudi Ladies International.
“I just did my best out there today with every single shot, but Lydia was absolutely brilliant,” the four-time LET winner said.
“I learned a lot from her today, Lydia Ko has one of the best short games ever, her putting was brilliant, and every approach shot she played this week, I can definitely learn to get better from her.”