Golf: Kiwi Lydia Ko breaks LPGA title drought with victory at Tournament of Champions in Florida

Kiwi golfer Lydia Ko has snapped her cold streak in emphatic fashion, clinching the Tournament of Champions crown in Florida.

Holding a two-shot lead at the start of play, Ko showed no signs of any final-days nerves, firing a two-under par 70 in her fourth round to claim the spoils by three shots in cold and blustery conditions at her home course at Orlando's Lake Nona.

She finished 14-under overall for the tournament ahead of American Alexa Pano (12-under) and Canada's Brooke Henderson (10-under).

The win is Ko's first on the LPGA Tour in 14 months, dating back to her triumph at the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship in 2022.  

Lydia Ko with her caddie.
Lydia Ko with her caddie. Photo credit: Getty Images

The title is Ko's 20th of her career and leaves her just one shy of earning a place in the World Golf Hall of Fame.

After two flawless outings in her second and third rounds, the world No.12's final stanza included four birdies, with just a single bogey blemish on the par-five 11th hole.

After winning the LPGA Championship and returning to the world No.1 ranking in 2022, Ko, 26, fell away last year, finishing no higher than third and missing four cuts, as she struggled to retain her tour card.

She salvaged her campaign at the Grant Thornton Invitational, where she paired with Australian Jason Day for victory in the non-tour mixed team format to gain some much-needed momentum.

Ko was delighted to put a difficult 2023 behind her and kick off the new year in style, admitting the comforts of home had been beneficial.

"Maybe if I found the keys that I found then [late in the season] a little earlier, maybe I could have had a better season," Ko joked. "I think if you keep going down a spiral of thinking 'what if', it's endless.  

"I tried to work hard in the two weeks leading up to this event and to be able to win at home has been nice.

"There were definitely nerves, but a little less, just because it is my home course. To see so many members come out and clap and cheer me on - I think that was the best part of this week."

Being on the brink of gaining entry to the Hall of Fame is an achievement Ko says she tries to ensure remains in the back of her mind.

"I thought two [points] was really close and now one is like really, really close - I'm literally right in front of the door," she said.

"My mindset was just too do everything I can do, and if it happens, it happens and if not, it's just not meant to be.

"To have a better chance of getting after winning this week is pretty cool, I'm not going to get too crazy about what could happen, but just continue to try and play solid golf, and see where that puts me." 

Ko now faces a quick turnaround to be back on the course for next week's Drive On Championship at Bradenton.