- Associated Press - Sunday, April 27, 2014

DALY CITY, Calif. (AP) - With the 18th pin and a championship in sight, Lydia Ko found herself in the rough again in a day filled with off-target drives. The teen told herself she just needed one more important chip with the tournament on the line.

Poised and unflappable, Ko made the perfect pitch up to the green and birdied the final hole for her first LPGA Tour victory as a professional and third in all, holding off Stacy Lewis and Jenny Shin on Sunday in the inaugural Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic.

In one memorable week, Ko turned 17, earned a spot as one of the 100 most influential people in the world by TIME magazine and captured her first LPGA Tour win as a pro - all while playing with a fill-in caddie from the local club.

“Normally they would say sweet 16, but I would say it’s sweet 17,” Ko said. “I don’t think I could have any better birthday week.”

It went down to the final shots, and the teen made a 6-foot birdie putt moments before Lewis knocked in a 4-footer of her own to finish one stroke back.

After beginning the day a stroke behind Lewis, Ko birdied three of her final four holes on the front nine on the way to a 3-under 69 and 12-under 276 total at Lake Merced.

Ko earned $270,000, celebrating on the 18th green three days after celebrating her birthday at the first tee box with the gallery singing “Happy Birthday.”

Ko, born in South Korea and raised in New Zealand, will move up two spots to No. 2 in the next world ranking.

Her father, G.H., got to see her win Sunday.

“Tears nearly ran down my face. You may lose friends but you’re always going to have your parents,” Ko said. “I try to make myself not cry of happiness but it was coming to that point.”

She won the Canadian Women’s Open as an amateur the last two years and took the Swinging Skirts World Ladies Masters in December in Thailand in her second start as a professional. She has six victories in pro events, also winning in Australia and New Zealand.

All three of Ko’s LPGA wins have come on courses most of the other golfers also played for the first time.

The third-ranked Lewis finished with a 71 for her sixth runner-up finish since winning the Women’s British Open in August. She will head to her home state of Texas next week looking to build on a disappointing near miss in which she struggled all day with her short game.

“I knew she wasn’t going away. Lydia played great,” Lewis said. “Every time I hit a shot in there, she answered.”

Shin, still looking for her first tour win after her best finish this year, had a 68 to finish two shots behind.

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