Lydia Ko wins first LPGA title of the year

March 28, 2016
Lydia Ko, from New Zealand, raises her arms in celebration after making a birdie on the final hole to finish 19-under-par and a four shot victory at the Kia Classic women's golf tournament Sunday, March 27, 2016, in Carlsbad, Calif. (AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi)

Lydia Ko, from New Zealand, raises her arms in celebration after making a birdie on the final hole to finish 19-under-par and a four shot victory at the Kia Classic women’s golf tournament Sunday, March 27, 2016, in Carlsbad, Calif. (AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi)

CARLSBAD, Calif. (AP) — Lydia Ko won the Kia Classic at Aviara, reaffirming her position as the top player in the world heading into the first major championship of the season.

Ko birdied the final three holes for her third straight 5-under 67 and a four-stroke victory over second-ranked Inbee Park.

A week after finishing second in Phoenix in the Founders Cup, Ko headed to Rancho Mirage for the ANA Inspiration with her first LPGA Tour victory of the year and 11th overall. The 18-year-old New Zealander also won the Ladies European Tour’s New Zealand Women’s Open in February.

Ko finished at 19-under 269.

Park closed with a 67. The South Korean appears to be over the back problem that forced her to withdraw from the first event of the season. She tied for 30th in Thailand and Singapore in her first events back and missed the cut in Phoenix.

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