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Ko bags Player of the Year crown

MIAMI (AFP) — New Zealand’s Lydia Ko won the season-ending LPGA Tour Championship on Sunday, holding on for a two-stroke victory over Ireland’s Leona Maguire that also secured her the Player of the Year prize.

Ko, who also won the tournament in 2014, pocketed the record $2 million prize for victory at Tiburon Golf Club in Naples Florida with her two-under round of 70 in blustery conditions.

The 19th victory on the tour for Ko, also secured her back-to-back Vare Trophy awards, given to the player with the lowest scoring average for the season.

It has been a true return to form this year for Ko, who began the season with a victory at Boca Rio in January and then captured the BMW Championship in South Korea in October.

“This year has been an incredible year. I really could never ask for more to win so early in the season and then to have won in Korea and then win the last event of the year,” said Ko who plans to get married during the off-season.

“I couldn’t have drawn it up any better. There have been so many exciting things in my life that have been going on.”

Ko’s second Player of the Year award follows her triumph in 2015 and the 25-year-old could now secure her place in the LPGA Hall of Fame next season.

“This will be my last win as a single lady. So, I wanted to do this for my family,” she said.

“This has been one of the most consistent and solid years I’ve had.”

The South-Korean born Ko ended the tournament on 17-under 271 for the week, with Maguire’s even-par round of 72 leaving her 15-under.

Maguire went into the final round level with Ko after a magnificent 9-under round of 63 but was unable to reproduce that form.

Bogeys on the fifth and 14th ultimately cost the Irishwoman and her birdie on the 17th proved to be too little too late.

“It was an incredible week, a really great way to round off the season and if you would have offered me second at the start of the week I would have grabbed it with both hands,” Maguire said.

“It would have been nice to have played a little better today but it was really tough out there. The wind was strong, it was cold, the greens were tricky. I didn’t play as well as Saturday but I grafted away and had some key up and downs to keep me in it.”

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