April 27, 2015 / 2:23 AM / 3 years ago

Ko beats Pressel in playoff to claim seventh LPGA title

(Reuters) - Lydia Ko secured a late birthday present when she birdied the second extra hole to beat American Morgan Pressel in a playoff at the Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic in California on Sunday.

Lydia Ko tees off on the fifth hole during the second round of the ANA Inspiration at Mission Hills CC - Dinah Shore Tournament Course; Apr 3, 2015; Rancho Mirage, CA, USA; Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Two days after turning 18, the South Korean-born Kiwi successfully defended her title and picked up a seventh LPGA victory in the process.

“It’s been a great birthday week again,” Ko told the Golf Channel after sinking her winning putt from four feet at the Lake Merced course in San Francisco.

“This week I hit the ball really well and it definitely makes this course a lot easier.”

Pressel, however, will be ruing the birthday gifts she offered Ko by squandering two chances for victory.

The American missed a 15-foot birdie putt at the final regulation hole, the par-five 18th, and also missed from inside 10 feet at the first extra hole.

Eight years ago, Pressel became the youngest player to win a major at the age of 18 but she has only triumphed once since and remains without a victory since 2008.

Ko showed why she is worthy of her world number one ranking when she sank a clutch eight-foot birdie at the 18th to force extra holes, after earlier sinking a 40-footer at the 15th that took a sharp right-hand turn and dropped in on the final roll.

The New Zealander carded a two-under 70 and Pressel shot a 72 with the pair finishing on eight-under 280, one ahead of the long-time leader Brooke Henderson, the Canadian teenager dropping back with a final round of 74.

Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina; Editing by John O'Brien

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