Ko holds off several hard chargers, wins Founder Cup

Jin Young Ko birdied four of the final eight holes, including three straight at one point, to hold off several hard chargers and win the LPGA's Bank of Hope Founders Cup in Phoenix by one stroke Sunday.

Ko's third straight birdie -- and her final of the day -- came on the par-4 16th and made her the first golfer this weekend to get to 22-under par. The South Korean finished the tournament at 22-under 266, one better than four golfers -- Americans Jessica Korda and Nelly Korda, Spaniard Carlota Ciganda, and third-round leader Yu Liu of China.

Both Korda sisters birdied 16 but parred 17 and 18, and Ciganda got to 21 under with a birdie on the par-3 14th but parred the final four holes.

It is the third career LPGA win for the 23-year-old Ko, who shot a final-round 7-under 65 at the 6,656-yard Wildfire Golf Club course. It is also the reigning LPGA Rookie of the Year's first win on American soil.

She told reporters after the round that winning in the U.S. is a confidence boost for her.

"I would say, I thought ... can I ... win in the States? Last year I think too much, so I lose a little bit confidence," Ko said through an interpreter. "But my friends told me, ‘You can do it.' Also my manager and my parents, my caddie, all people say, ‘You can.'"

Ko picked up $225,000 with the win and is also projected to move from seventh place to second in the Race to the CME Globe standings.

Jessica Korda said she is getting back into the groove after a forearm injury.

"I had a lot rust at the beginning of the tournament, and I still obviously did not hit a lot of great shots out there. It's slowly coming back together, and that's what I'm so grateful for," she said.

Nelly Korda said she was "proud of the way I played," calling her bogey on the sixth hole "the only mistake I made."

"Then I gave myself an opportunity on the last couple holes," she added.

But it was Liu who had the best chance to force a playoff. After getting to 22 under on No. 15, she missed a 15-foot par putt on 18 to drop a stroke and lose by one.

Liu was upbeat despite coming up short.

"First time being able to play in the final round, first time being in contention," she said. "Didn't handle the way I wanted to, but feel like there is always room for improvements and a lot of events left this season. ... To be able to finish pretty high up really gave me some confidence."

Liu shot a 2-under 70 on Sunday, Ciganda shot a 69, Nelly Korda shot a 6-under 66, and Jessica Korda fired an 8-under 64.

China's Shanshan Feng and England's Charlotte Thomas each shot 66 on Sunday to finish tied for sixth at 19-under 269. Brooke M. Henderson of Canada and Lydia Ko of Australia finished tied for eighth at 18-under 270, and American Cristie Kerr tied with two South Koreans, Hyo-Joo Kim and Sei Young Kim, at 17-under 271 to round out the top 12.

Jessica Korda's 64 was tied for the day's best round, as Australia's Su-Hyun Oh also shot an 8-under round, finishing the tournament tied for 18th at 14-under 274.

The Bank of Hope Founders Cup is a tribute to the founders of the LPGA. When golfers complete the 18th hole and walk off the green, they walk over to and talk with a group of LPGA founders and pioneers seated just off the back of the green.

--Field Level Media