Back in the winners circle: Lydia Ko eagled the first playoff hole to win her first event on the LPGA Tour since 2016 at the LPGA Mediheal Championship
At the site where she had already won two LPGA titles, Lydia Ko returned to San Francisco to make it a hat-trick of victories in the week of her 21st birthday.
After holding the 54-hole lead, Ko needed to birdie the final hole to match Minjee Lee at the top of the leaderboard on 12-under-par. She nearly holed out for eagle, but a tap in birdie to close out a final round 71 was enough to send the two women down the 18th hole once more.
It was Ko's agressive play that paid off, hitting her 3-wood approach shot to just under three feet on the first playoff hole to pile the pressure on Lee, who was around 20 yards further forward with her tee shot. As Lee found the greenside bunker and would get out to make birdie, Ko finished off her eagle putt to claim her 15th LPGA victory.
The win ended a 43-tournament drought for Ko, which had marked a period of changes in instructors, caddie and equipment and saw her drop from World No.1 to World No.18. Many had begun to question what had happened to Lydia Ko, the youngster who had so quickly amassed victories, broken records and risen to the top ranks of the game. On Sunday, she became emotional as she lifted her first trophy since 2016.
"I don't think I cried at the other 14 (LPGA victories) and I cried like four times in the span of two minutes, which is kind of embarrassing," said Ko.
"Every time I'd see my sister I cried; every time I saw my mom I cried; and then Ted (Oh), my coach, was crying so I cried again ... God get ahold of yourself. I think it was emotional because they've been through it with me."
"My whole team and my family, they've worked really hard for this moment," Ko said. "I'm happy that a few of them are here and we can celebrate together."