Lydia Ko shot a final-round 8-under 63 at The Evian Championship to become the youngest major champion in LPGA history. Ko (18 years, 4 months, 20 days) broke Morgan Pressel’s previous record (18/10/9) with a four-day total of 16-under par 268. She had one bogey in her final 36 holes and recorded the lowest final round by a winner at a major, previously held by Karen Stupples (64) at the 2004 Women’s British Open. Lexi Thompson finished runner-up and six shots back at 10-under par.
Press Conference with Lydia Ko
THE MODERATOR: It’s my absolute pleasure to welcome in the 2015 Evian Championship winner and now the youngest major champ in LPGA Tour history, Lydia Ko. Lydia, I know we kept asking you about it and asking you about it. I know you wanted to win a major despite the record. How special does this feel, this moment for you right now? LYDIA KO: The first feeling I get is I’m very wet, I’m very cold. But it’s a great feeling. Today has been unbelievable. You know, I put myself in a good position going into today, over the last couple of days, and yeah, I just focused on my game. Lexi was playing really great golf, hitting good shots to the pin and making a lot of great putts. So I just said, hey, I’ve just got to focus on one shot at a time, and yeah, it’s been so amazing, and I said before that my goal coming into today was to make par on 18, and that’s still not accomplished yet. I’ll be back next year to do that.
Q. I know yesterday you said, oh, that 18th hole, birdie on the 18th, you were walking to the 18th green with a five-shot lead. Yesterday you said, I wish I had a five-shot lead going into tomorrow. How special was that walk going up 18 knowing that you had sealed the deal already and got to enjoy it a little bit?
LYDIA KO: Yeah, Jason told me to just enjoy the moment. Any tournament it’s hard to come down the 18th with a five-shot lead, and to do it in a major, it’s an even better feeling. You know, I didn’t know I’d make the putt, so I said to Lexi, I’ll just go anyway, and it ended up dropping. Lucky I didn’t have like a three-footer for par. Yeah, you know, it was just such an amazing feeling walking across the bridge and saying thank you to all the fans that came out.
Q. Talk about that crowd support, probably some of the biggest that we’ve seen here ever. How much were you playing off of them and how was their support?
LYDIA KO: Yeah, you know, there were a lot of people out here, a lot of people supporting us, and not just the leading groups but the whole Tour, so it was great to play in front of great crowds. We don’t come here a lot. It’s only a once-in-a-year thing, so it’s great that we can play some great golf and showcase some of our skills. Yeah, especially to this little kid who came out and watched me on the weekend and just pretty much after every hole, he would say, hey, good job, you can do it, gave me high fives, and that kind of pumped me up because it kind of felt like it wasn’t only me that was out there, it was like a team thing.
Q. It looked like you had a little bit of emotion there just for a split second on the 18th green. Can you kind of talk about what you were feeling? Was it relief? Were you just kind of overwhelmed at the moment?
LYDIA KO: Yeah, a couple teardrops. I didn’t totally cry-cry. But I kind of got a little overwhelmed, and I could kind of feel tears coming when Jason said, enjoy the moment, coming down onto the green. I kind of felt back over the whole week and all the questions I’ve been asked. But in a way I was relieved. But to kind of have that putt go in, I think just everything dropped. I didn’t really know what was going to happen. I mean, it was so amazing, and just, I think, all feelings kind of went into me.
Q. One bogey over your last 36 holes is very tough on this course. What was the key to minimising mistakes, because even Lexi said today, she goes, I don’t think she made a single mistake. How hard is that, and what was the key to doing that?
LYDIA KO: Yeah, you know, my only mistake really over the last 36 holes was — the major one was on 18 yesterday, and I think we just kind of thought of it as one shot at a time. I said before that I was in the rough but I didn’t get too many bad lies where I wasn’t able to get anywhere near the pin. So I was a little unlucky with that because I know it’s been a dry summer, but still, the rough was pretty thick where you can get some dodgy lies. I was pretty lucky where I could get the club to ball, and it was kind of like No. 11, that’s how I think I got it close to the pin. But if it was more buried, I don’t think I would have had a chance.
Q. How old was this little guy that kept on leaping out of the crowd to give you a high five?
LYDIA KO: I’m not sure, maybe around 10. I’m not really good at estimating things. People think I’m 25, so you know, I don’t know. But no, he was around 10, I think, and I think he was out here with his dad or something.
Q. Did he do this every day or was it just today? LYDIA KO: Well, I noticed it the last two days, and so I gave him a ball after it was time to change, and yeah, he’s been supporting me at least on the weekend, and that’s where it says it’s moving day. Yeah, I felt very pumped that there was a kid here watching me every shot.
Q. I know yesterday you said that you thought they were just using your face on the posters because of your colour. You wore pink today. That was maybe a little bit of destiny. Do you think it was kind of an omen that you were ready to win and your face was everywhere?
LYDIA KO: I’m not sure.
Q. It made it worth it.
LYDIA KO: Hey, but then it was like, hey, did you win last year. I wouldn’t have guessed it. I think there was like a board, a billboard, in the London airport, too, and I was there, and Craig Kieswetter tagged me, hey, you made it to London, too. Hey, it’s so cool to be in front, I guess, on the poster. But it’s kind of side on, so it doesn’t only show one player. I think it kind of shows the whole Tour, which is a great thing about it, and obviously the colour, too. This isn’t the right shade of pink, though.
Q. So you’ve downplayed all of our questions about winning a major and making history, but now that it’s finally over and you’ve done it, can you talk about what it means to you to be the youngest player?
LYDIA KO: Yeah. You know, yesterday during my press conference, I said, winning at any age is amazing at a major, and all players want to peak at their best at a major. To say that I’m the youngest in history for now, it’s so cool. But the big thing for me is I won’t be asked that question. But even if I didn’t win today, I think I would have been really relieved because I’d be too old for it by the time of ANA. Yeah, I mean, it’s great, and it’s amazing that I can leave my name I guess a little bit in the history books. Q. I think you were just holding out until your very last time so we’d continue to ask you. I think that was what it was.
LYDIA KO: Yeah, it would have been easier if it was earlier.
Q. There was a lot of excitement in New Zealand building for how you were performing. In a few hours’ time, Kiwis in New Zealand are going to wake up and see the news. What do you think the feeling is going to be like for this kind of success?
LYDIA KO: Yeah, you know, I’m so glad I can share it with my friends, family back at home, too. Obviously there’s a big time difference because New Zealand has got the fastest time in the world. To kind of see the flag coming down on the 18th green, that was really cool, and it doesn’t happen anywhere else. It’s really amazing. I’m sure everybody will be excited as much as me.
Q. I have to put this round in perspective. A round of 63 ties the lowest final round in a major on the LPGA Tour and is the lowest final round by an eventual winner. You beat Stupples, who was 64 at the 2004 Women’s British Open. Sorry, Stupps. How does that define this win, playing so well in the final round on such a big stage?
LYDIA KO: Just to shoot 8-under on any day is a pretty solid round. I had the same under par as the last three days and today. It was kind of like a whole three days’ worth of work today. But just, I think, shooting 8-under is great, but not to make any bogeys, I think that’s a bigger thing because it meant that when I was in trouble I kind of got myself out of it, and when I had the opportunities, I was able to grab it. Yeah, you know, I’ll take the 8-under.
Q. I know we talked about the Rolex, you’re a Rolex ambassador. Are we going to give this away to anyone? I know I don’t have one. Have you thought about keeping this one? I’m sure one of the media members would take it.
LYDIA KO: I’m pretty sure my sister over here is — she went in the Rolex tent here, and she was like, hey, now I’ve looked at a couple watches, so I wouldn’t mind getting my hands on one. Maybe it’s hers. Mom doesn’t have one. But she says she doesn’t really want to have too pretty a watch because she’s worried somebody is going to cut her arm off and take the Rolex. This is pretty, so I get worried sometimes, too. It’s great to be part of Rolex. I mean, they’re such amazing sponsors, and they’re more than sponsors, it’s family, and to be alongside the other great names, great ambassadors of Rolex, it’s pretty cool to have my name next to theirs.
Q. Fourth win this year. One of your goals was obviously to win a major. Where do you go from here and how can you grade your season so far?
LYDIA KO: Yeah, you know, I’ve got a great three weeks off, so I’ll be going back to Orlando, take a couple days off. I know this is going to be — this has been a busy week, and I’m sure it will be for a week or so. But now I just kind of need to go back to square one, do my basic practices and work my way towards the Asia Swing. I’m pretty sure it’s going to be a great couple weeks in Asia. I kind of have to think of this in the back of my mind, enjoy it, but also prepare for what’s coming up next.
Q. As the youngest major winner, what’s your next ambition? What are you aiming at next?
LYDIA KO: I think one of my big goals is the Olympics. You know, it’s only around the corner. It’s less than a year from now. I think the first time it was announced, I was like, man, I really want to be playing in the Olympics. Yeah, it’s soon. It’s next year. Ever since it’s been announced, I’ve been super excited to play, and to play for your country on the international stage, it’s an amazing experience, and I’ve met some Olympians, and they say it’s nothing — nothing is like it. I think that is one of my big goals, and yeah, it’s always been my big goal.
Q. At just 18, I think that was the performance on a Sunday that Annika would be proud of in terms of mental strength. What are your feelings about emulating a career like hers?
LYDIA KO: I mean, I think earlier this year with my under-par streak, that’s when there was a lot of talk, comparing Annika to me. But it’s a huge honour to even put my name in the same sentence as a player like Annika, what she’s done for the Tour and what she’s done in her career and what she’s still doing for women’s golf, it’s amazing, and she will forever be an ambassador and a role model to me.
THE MODERATOR: Congratulations, and again, it was very enjoyable, as always. More records to be broken, I’m sure.