Golf: Kiwi Lydia Ko lets Hall of Fame entry slip from grasp at Blue Bay LPGA

Kiwi Lydia Ko has fallen away over the final round at the Blue Bay LPGA, blowing a prime opportunity for Hall of Fame entry.

After winning the season-opening Tournament of Champions, Ko needs just one more tour win to secure immortality on the women's tour and shared the lead into the last day at Hainan Island.

Instead of celebrating her 21st career victory, she slipped down the leaderboard, losing ground to American co-leaders Bailey Tardy and Sarah Schmelzel, and caught by overnight stragglers, finishing fourth equal at one under par for the day and 13 under for the weekend. 

The Lydia Ko fan club were out in force at Hainan Island.
The Lydia Ko fan club were out in force at Hainan Island. Photo credit: Getty Images

She reached the turn at two-over and five shots off the front. Bogeys at two, five and nine were mitigated slightly by her sole birdie on the par-five third, as several other chances to cut the deficit slipped away.

Three straight pars did little to help her fortunes, as she began the back nine, but back-to-back birdies at the par-four 13th and par-five 14th sparked some hope of a late charge, but another on the last left her in a share for fourth.

Schmelzel started strongest with birdies at the first three boles, but a pair of bogeys stalled her march, just as Tardy took control. Seven straight pars were snapped by eagle-birdie at the turn and five birdies on the back nine gave her a four-shot buffer over her nearest challenger.

Schmelzel also birdied the 18th to claim outright second from Japanese Ayaka Furue. Ko was another stroke back, alongside Aussie Minjee Lee and Canadian Savannah Grewal.

She remains atop the LPGA championship standings, after following her first-up win with a runner-up finish at the Drive On Championship seven days later. Her next chance to achieve Hall of Fame status comes in two weeks at the Fir Hills Seri Pak Championship in California.