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Hull holds off Ko, Lin

WASHINGTON (AFP) — England’s Charley Hull captured her second career LPGA title on Sunday, holding off New Zealand’s Lydia Ko and China’s Lin Xiyu to win the Volunteers of America Classic.

Hull, whose only other LPGA triumph came at the 2016 Tour Championship, fired a seven-under par 64 to finish 72 holes on 18-under 266 at Old American Golf Club at The Colony, Texas.

That was good enough to edge Lin by one stroke and Ko by two to snap a six-year LPGA win drought that Hull said had been a long wait.

“I feel very proud of myself,” Hull said.

“I had come close a few times since but I’ve put in some good work this year.”

Thailand’s Atthaya Thitikul was fourth on 272. Her compatriot Moriya Jutanugarn shared fifth with American Cheyenne Knight on 273.

Meanwhile, Yuka Saso wound up in a share of 42nd place after shooting even-par 71.

The 20-year-old Filipino-Japanese struggled with her approach shots, missing nine greens but did an excellent job on the greens with 26 putts to complete 72 holes on even-par 284.

She had four birdies against two bogeys and a double bogey.

Hull said she feels like better things are coming after her breakthrough.

“My game is there. It was just my confidence and now I’m confident,” Hull said.

“I felt really good. I felt like I was really in control of my round, especially coming in.”

“I could have made some more birdies and I hit good putts and they just rolled over the edge.”

Lin sank a 25-foot eagle putt at the par-5 17th to momentarily match Hull for the lead, but the 26-year-old Englishwoman answered moments later with a six-foot downhill birdie putt to reclaim the lead on 18-under.

At the 18th, Ko lipped out from 12 feet for birdie while Lin and Hull, in the next and final group, gave themselves birdie chances as well.

Hull missed from 18 feet and tapped in for par, leaving Lin a 14-footer to force a playoff, but the putt faded left and Hull had the triumph.

“It was quite brilliant, actually. I found it quite exciting,” Hull said.

“When ‘Janet’ (Lin) made eagle on 17, I enjoyed that. It made me want to birdie the last. I hit a good putt. I missed. But it was great fun.”

Lin, a 26-year-old from Guangzhou, matched her best LPGA finish, a runner-up effort in March in Thailand.

Ko, a 25-year-old Seoul-born star, is a two-time major champion who captured her 17th career LPGA title in January at the LPGA at Boca Rio.

She hasn’t won twice in a season since claiming four titles in the 2016 campaign.

Ko opened and closed the front nine with back-to-back birdies to reach 14-under, grabbing a share of the lead with 54-hole co-leaders Hull and Lin.

Hull surged early with four birdies in the first seven holes only to make a bogey at eight while Lin opened with a birdie and added others at the par-5 sixth and par-4 10th.

Hull leaped ahead with three birdies in a row at the 12th, par-5 13th and 14th to reach 17-under, seizing a three-stroke edge with four holes remaining.

Lin stumbled with a bogey at the par-3 11th but answered with a birdie at 13.

Ko birdied the 15th and 17th and Lin birdied the par-3 16th to set up the closing drama.

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