Golf-S.Korea's Ko wins Women's Australian Open wire-to-wire

Feb 18 (Reuters) - Ko Jin-young ignored persistent screeching by a flock of sulfur-crested cockatoos on Sunday to record an emphatic wire-to-wire victory at the Handa Women's Australian Open in Adelaide.

Ko produced a meticulous back nine to card a closing three-under-par 69 and head a South Korean one-two finish, with Choi Hye-jin (67) in second place three strokes further back.

Swinging with metronomic consistency and putting with unerring accuracy, she finished at 14-under 274 at the historic Kooyonga course that has hosted five men's Australian Opens.

Ko is already a 10-times winner on the Korean LPGA. Last October she captured the LPGA KEB Hana Bank Championship title and earned a ticket to the lucrative U.S. women's tour.

On Sunday, in another tournament sanctioned by the LPGA circuit, the 22-year-old became only the second player after Beverly Hanson in 1951 to claim an LPGA Tour title in her first start as a member.

Ko acknowledged she had been nervous trying to maintain her final-round lead, and credited her Australian caddie Dean Herden for keeping her from getting too excited.

"Did you see Dean's face, really scary," she said at the victory presentation on the 18th green, eliciting a roar of laughter from onlookers.

"First time in Australia ... my goal was to make the cut and enjoy the game but I did win."

(Reporting by Andrew Both in Adelaide, South Australia; Editing by Greg Stutchbury)

02/18/2018 2:15

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