Born in Seoul, South Korea and raised in New Zealand, Lydio Ko spent her 17th birthday playing in the inaugural Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic, where she earned her first LPGA Tour championship since turning pro, and the third LPGA title in her young career.
The tournament took place at Lake Merced Golf Club, located near San Francisco. Despite a rain delay on the last day of the tournament, Ko still managed to put up a score of 69 strokes (-3 to par), and claimed the title with a winning score of 276 (-12 to par).
After the first three rounds, Ko still trailed American star Stacy Lewis by one stroke, but her performance in the last day dazzled. Although she had bogeys in hole 4, 7 and 10, she also scored five birdies in the first 17 holes. Lewis scored a birdie in the 18th hole, giving Ko tremendous pressure, but Ko still managed the decisive 6-feet putt for the birdie and took home the $270K winner’s share.
On February 2, 2015, Lydia Ko became the youngest player to be ranked No.1 in the world, at the age of 17, and she looked to defend her title at the Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic.The tournament was star-studded this year, with 19 of the top-20 ranked players all attending, making a repeat for Ko certainly a difficult task.
Ko started off well on the first say, scoring five under par and sat atop the table with 67 strokes, but after the third day, Ko fell to fourth place.On the last round, Ko showed her promise as the defending champion, scoring a two under par at 70 strokes, and forced extra hole with American Morgan Pressel, both with a total of 280 strokes.
On the first extra hole, both managed even pars at the 18th hole, and took the game to a second extra hole. Pressel once again put up even par, but Ko managed to overcome the pressure, scoring a five-feet putt for a birdie, and successfully defensing her title.
Despite not performing at her best on the last day, Ko still showcased her skills at the most crucial moment, and just like last year, took home the championship trophy on the week of her birthday, giving herself the best birthday gift.
Haru Nomura’s father is Japanese, her mother is South Korean, and she is registered as a Japanese citizen.On February, 2016, Nomura scored a 16 under par in four rounds at the Women’s Australian Open, defeating the then-No. 1-ranking Lydia Ko—who is also the winner of the first two Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic—by three strokes, en route to her first career LPGA championship.
Two months later, Nomura also participated in the Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic held at San Francisco, challenging the defending champion Ko. Nomura performed excellently in the first round, scoring 7 under par and sat atop the table. The wind grew stronger in the days after, affecting every player’s performance, but Nomura still displayed her ability under adversity, and lead the pack with 3 under after three rounds.
However, on the first nine holes of the last round, she scored four bogeys and had her lead trimmed to one stroke. Fortunately, Nomura did not panic in the last nine holes; facing the strong winds, she finished the round with 1 above par at 73 strokes. With 9 under par and a total of 279 strokes across the tournament, Nomura won the championship by 4 strokes, and took home her second title of the year. She also became the first Japanese player to win two LPGA championships in a year since Ai Miyazato did it back in 2012.