She became the youngest major champion in over a hundred years last year. She just became the youngest two time major champion of all time.
Lydia Ko fired a final round 69 to win the first major of the year, the ANA Inspiration. Ko shot four under par round to finish with a total of 267 and a one shot victory.
Ko started the day one shot back of leader Lexi Thompson, but Thompson struggled out the gate and never really recovered. Instead, it became a wide open battle between several golfers.
Ko had a bogey free round going entering the 18th, but still found herself tied for the lead with Ariya Jutanugarn, In Gee Chun, and Charley Hull. Needing a birdie to take the lead into the clubhouse, Ko hit her approach shot on the 18th within three feet of the pin. Jutanugarn had the ability to match in the group behind her, but she bogeyed to secure the victory for Ko.
“It’s amazing. You know, you can’t really rank them,” said Ko, according to LPGA.com. “Every one of them is special, and every event is so different, so unique, and I think obviously winning this event is great, but obviously jumping into the Poppies Pond, that kind of tradition will definitely be one of the highlights of my career. But I’ve never really played well at this course before, so just to know that, hey, I can still play well at a course that I haven’t really played well before I think gives me the confidence.”
The victory gives Ko two straight wins on the LPGA Tour, 12 LPGA Tour victories, 17 professional victories, and two majors. Ko turns 19 next month. With all her accomplishments, many now wonder if Ko is the greatest teenage athlete of all time.
"If Ko at age 18 is to be considered the most successful teenage athlete in professional sports history," Melissa Isaacson of ESPNw writes, "and she is now at the forefront of that conversation after capturing her second major title to become the youngest LPGA player to win two - she should also be lauded for the almost frighteningly tranquil manner in which she has done it."
The LPGA's Golden Age
Lydia Ko's victory this past weekend was impressive, but even more impressive were the players chasing her down. Of the players who finished in the top five - Ko, Chun, Hull, Jutanugarn, and Thompson, the oldest is Chun - at 21 years old.
The youth movement arrived in the LPGA Tour two years ago, and now we're seeing these players, not as young up and comers who will eventually lead the Tour, but as the best players in the world who have taken their place on the world's stage.
Ko has become the queen of the Tour, a position she is looking to hold for quite some time. Now with two majors and an extended reign as the Rolex Number One, she can look to etch her name alongside Annika Sorenstam and Lorena Ochoa as someone who defined a generation of golfers and lead an era.
Unlike Ochoa or Sorenstam, however, Ko has a much deeper field chasing her every week. A large part of Sorenstam's reign existed prior to the Se Ri Pak lead "Korean Invasion" that saw the game become more global.
Ko, however, not only has to deal with this new wave of incredibly talented golfers, all of whom are now major tested, but she also has to worry about an LPGA Hall of Famer in Inbee Park, who struggles with consistency but may be the most well rounded player on the Tour.
The world is ready for Ko to lead the LPGA Tour for the next 10 years, and Ko is ready to take that mantel. The rest of the players, however, are not going to allow Ko to remain the incumbent, not if they have anything to say about it.