(Reuters) - Ko Jin-young won the Evian Championship by two strokes in France on Sunday, cementing her reputation as a player for big occasions with her second major victory of the year.
South Korean Ko seized control with a 15-foot birdie at the penultimate hole, where she perfectly read a sharply-breaking putt at the Evian Resort in Evian-les-Bains.
She parred the last, before letting out a big smile, raising her arms in celebration and hurling her ball into the gallery.
Ko finished at 15-under 269, less than four months after claiming her maiden major title at the ANA Inspiration in the California desert.
There are five official majors in women’s golf.
Ko came from four strokes behind the overnight leader, fellow Korean Kim Hyo-joo, whose hopes disappeared with a triple-bogey at the par-three 14th, where her ball plugged in a greenside bunker.
“Last night I thought if I play a really good (final round) I can win,” Ko said before being presented with the trophy by American skier Lindsey Vonn.
Kim (73), China’s Shanshan Feng (68) and American Jennifer Kupcho (66) tied for second on 13-under.
With her fifth LPGA Tour victory in less than two years, Ko, 24, is projected to reclaim her world number one ranking.
There is no secret to Ko’s success other than a flawless swing and a consistency others can only dream of.
Apart from her three LPGA wins this year, Ko has also finished runner-up three times, and has never been outside the top 30.
“She plays a mistake-proof game,” said Hall of Fame member Judy Rankin during the Golf Channel telecast.
The same said could not be said of overnight leader Kim, who butchered the 14th after finding her ball almost buried in a bunker.
She took a hack at the ball, which almost made it on the green, only to roll back down into the bunker, and into one of her large footprints.
It was a happier day for Kupcho, who turned pro in May after winning the inaugural Augusta National Women’s Amateur Championship.
“I came into the day not expecting to win so to play the way I did, especially on a Sunday, as new as I am out here, it’s pretty exciting,” Kupcho said.
Sunday’s round was delayed by heavy rain, and the final group did not finish until after 7.30 p.m. local time.
The final group crawled around the back nine in two hours and 47 minutes, but at least they finished, saving the tournament from spilling into Monday.
The Evian was the first of back-to-back majors, ahead of the Women’s British Open that will start at Woburn on Thursday.
Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina; Editing by Toby Davis