NAPLES: New Zealand teen Lydia Ko edged South Korean Park In-Bee for LPGA Player of the Year and season points honors Sunday while American Cristie Kerr captured the season-ending Tour Championship.
Multiple tour trophies, the world number one ranking and the title itself came down to dramatic final-hole tests.
Ko, the 18-year-old defending champion of the event and last year s $1 million season points chase, fired a par 72 to finish on 11-under 277 and share seventh, just enough to hold off Park — who fired a 69 to finish sixth on 276 — and stay world number one.
“The hole was smaller than the ball today,” Ko said. “A lot of lip outs, a lot of close ones. I tried my best. It could have been worse. I made a couple clutch 3-footers for pars.”
Kerr s final-round 68 left her on 17-under par 271, one stroke in front of compatriot Gerina Piller and South Korean rookie Jang Ha-Na. American Lexi Thompson was fourth on 274 with France s Karine Icher fifth on 275.
Ko answered a bogey at the third with a birdie at the par-3 fifth and birdied the par-3 17th before a closing lip-out bogey that left her uncertain about her status until her sister greeted her with news of her rewards that sparked tears of joy.
“What triggered it more was what kind of tough day it was,” Ko said. “I tried to stay patient all day. Even the lip out at the end, it was a long year. I went through every kind of emotion out there.
“Quite exciting, even to the last moment.”
Ko joined Sweden s Annika Sorenstam and Americans Beth Daniel and Nancy Lopez as the only players in LPGA history to follow a Rookie of the Year season with a Player of the Year campaign.
Park edged Ko for the Vare Trophy for season low scoring average and that achievement pushed her across the line for qualification into the LPGA Hall of Fame, although she must wait one more year to have played the minimum 10 seasons for induction.
Ko had a chance to overtake Park for the Vare Trophy on the final hole but could not hole her second shot from the fairway, coming up just short of the green.
The Kiwi then had three shots to get down to secure Player of the Year and needed all three after missing a seven-footer for par.
That left the stage to the players at the top of the leaderboard, with 38-year-old Kerr sinking a 15-foot eagle putt at 17 to seize a one-stroke lead but Jang made birdie to stay within one shot entering the final hole.
But Kerr, the oldest woman to win on tour this year, sank a tension-packed two-footer for par and took her 18th career LPGA victory.
“I still can t believe it,” Kerr said. “What a day.”