Ko breaks through for first major

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Jin Young Ko takes a ride on Rancho Mirage today.

Jin Young Ko told her Women & # 39; s Australian Open press conference in February that her year's mission was to be the happiest player on the LPGA Tour.

Not that the results are typical of her smile, but the delightful young Korean has certainly taken a huge step towards her goal with a dominant victory today in the first major of the year, the ANA inspiration.

Just as the challenge of Australian Katherine Kirk never fully reflected on a beautiful day to score at Rancho Mirage in California, only short rallies by Mi Hyang Lee and Lexi Thompson provided any appearance of a threat to Ko, the 2018 Women & # 39; s Australian Open champion.

Ko, 23, will jump to at least third place in the world ranking in her second year on the LPGA Tour if she is updated tomorrow after her victory at the Mission Hills track.

She led no less than five strokes during the final round and stumbled the hard-closing Lee briefly within one on the 13th and 15th moment.

But a good birdie on the 16th hole stabilized Ko & # 39; s ship and when she discharged a birdie putt on the closing hole for a 70, her 10-under total three were free from Hyang (70), with Thompson (67) third another shot back.

Ko became the fifth Korean ANA Inspiration winner and, remarkably enough, the 15th in her big power nation to win a big crown since Se Ri Pak made the breakthrough in 1998.

"This makes for a great memory here," said an emotional Ko

"It is a great honor … and I am very grateful to everyone (who made it possible)."

Ko admitted that she hoped to take the famous leap in Poppie's Pound since she first played the tournament five years ago.

"I walked that bridge, I always think I can go into that pond and that's it today."

Kirk, who was second halfway through and left Ko & # 39; five beats behind in the night, could not find momentum in her round until she saw a bunker explosion on the sixth hole hole for birdie.

But the Queenslander, who has become somewhat of a fixture in the most important classifications of the championship in recent years, could not participate.

Bogeys on the 10th and 11th holes took every wind off their sails and another on the 16th ignored a birdie on the 12th as she accepted a 73 and two-under-par total and a share in 17th place

It is not surprising that Minjee Lee was solid again at the weekend and brought her 71 to a bottom and a share of the 21st.

The other Aussie to make the cut was Sarah Jane Smith, who closed with a pair of 76s and finished in 74th place on 13.

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