Golf: Kiwi Lydia Ko claims LPGA Tour Championship with big win at Naples, Florida

Kiwi Lydia Ko has claimed the biggest win of her glittering golf career, claiming the LPGA Tour Championship - and US$2 million in prizemony - at Naples, Florida.

Tied for the lead with Ireland's Leona Maguire and five shots clear of their nearest challengers into the final round, Ko has carded 70 and finish 17 under par at Tiburon Golf Course to outlast her rival down the stretch for her 19th career win.

The world No.3 won the event as a teenager in 2014, heading off Spaniard Carlota Ciganda and Paraguay's Julieta Granada in extra holes, but this week's purse is the biggest ever offered in women's golf.

Lydia Ko surveys the damage, after hitting out of bounds on the 14th
Lydia Ko surveys the damage, after hitting out of bounds on the 14th. Photo credit: Getty Images

With victory, she also claims overall Player of the Year honours, which she also won in 2015, retained the Vare Trophy for average scoring and earned three valuable points towards entry into the LPGA Hall of Fame. 

Back-to-back birdies on the 16th and 17th put Ko two shots clear of Maguire at the last tee, and she held her nerve for par.

"I felt more calmer then I thought I would be," she admitted. "That was scary, there were a lot of things on the line today and I wanted to play the best golf I could.

"There were so many big names chasing me and I just tried to focuse on my game. It didn't matter if someone made bogey or birdie, I just needed to make my share of birdies.

"If I made a mistake, there were holes I could recover on."

Ko, 25, led after each of the four rounds, sharing that position with Maguire after the third, but gave back a shot on the very first hole of the final day.

Maguire inched ahead, but fell back, then Ko hit her tee shot into a penalty area on the par-four 14th to drop another shot.

Swede Anna Nordqvist made a run from the pack, catching Maguire at one stage, before carding a five-under 67 to finish three strokes adrift of the winner.

After winning just one tournament between 2016-21, Ko has captured three this year - the Gainbridge LPGA in April, the BMW Ladies Championship last month and now the Tour Championship. 

"This has been an incredible year," she said. "I really couldn't ask for more - to win so early in the season and then in Korea, and then the last event of the year - I couldn't have drawn it up any better.

"There are so many exciting things in my life going on - this will be my last tournament as a single lady. 

"I'm excited that my photo from winning here in 2014, with the glasses, can get updated with a better one this year with the blue jacket."