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Lydia Ko Calls The Moment She Got A Double-Stroke Penalty 'The Turning Point' On The Way To Her 11th LPGA Tour Title

by Jesse L. / Mar 28, 2016 08:30 PM EDT
Lydia Ko of New Zealand throws her ball to the gallery on the 18th hole en route to her -19 under victory during the Final Round of the LPGA's KIA Classic at the Park Hyatt Aviara Resort on Sunday.
Lydia Ko of New Zealand lines up her birdie putt on the 18th hole en route to her 19-under-par LPGA title victory during the final round of the KIA Classic at the Park Hyatt Aviara Resort on Sunday in Carlsbad, Calif.

There was a moment halfway through first-ranked professional golfer Lydia Ko's game-winning performance Kia Classic at the Park Hyatt Aviara Resort in Carlsbad, Calif. on Sunday, where everything changed for the 18-year-old New Zealander of Korean descent.

In the 10th hole, on the way to her 11th PGA Tour victory, Ko experienced a career first. The ball she was putting jumped back and hit her club, earning the teen a one-stroke penalty.

"I don't think I've ever double-hit it, especially with a putter before," Ko told the Associated Press. "That was interesting. Fortunately, I was able to make the second putt. I think that was kind of the turning point."

For her third consecutive tournament, Ko finished 5-under 67, four strokes over second ranked South Korean player Inbee Park.

"I just kind of peeked at the leaderboard and saw Inbee was making a lot of birdies; Inbee doing her Inbee things," Ko said. "I knew that I needed to focus up until the last moment and fortunately I made some birdies down the stretch."

Ko thanked her team of trainers, but made it clear that she was focused on the ANA Inspiration in Rancho Mirage, California, which kicks off on Thursday.

"All the work we've put in as a team kind of paid off," she said. "A really happy moment, but I have to focus for next week. I'm really excited to go back to ANA."

Ko is eager to rebound from her on her 51st place finish at ANA in 2015.

"I didn't strike the ball very well last year there," she said.

"Hopefully, I'll be able to hit a few more fairways and give myself a good chance. Obviously, it helps to have played well here going into the first major of the year."

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