14 Feb 2016
Lydia Ko with her NZ Open trophy.
Lydia Ko says she will donate her entire prizemoney cheque for winning a third ISPS Handa Women's New Zealand Open to charity after an earthquake struck Christchurch today.
The earthquake measuring 5.9 on the Richter scale struck Christchurch, just 10 kilometres from the Clearwater Golf Club where the Open was reaching its conclusion, followed by aftershocks throughout the afternoon.
Ko, the world No. 1, was 11 minutes away from teeing off in her final round when the initial earthquake was felt.
The teenager won $47,000 for finishing first but quickly offered it up to charity. “I have discussed this with my family and my team and this is something that we all want to do,'' said the Kiwi. "We will seriously think about the best way that we can use this money to help New Zealand.''
The 18-year-old Ko set up the perfect lead-in to her defence of the ISPS Handa Women's Australian Open at The Grange in Adelaide this week with a two-shot victory.
Beginning the final day with a one-shot lead, she was challenged several times but held steady with seven closing pars in a final-round 70, two-under par. At 10-under for three rounds, she was just ahead of England's Felicity Johnson, Norway's Nanna Madsen and amateur Hye Jin Choi at eight-under.
The biggest challenge of all came from American Amy Lewis, who roared around the first 11 holes in six-under par to reach 10-under and hold the outright lead, having started an hour earlier than Ko. But Lewis faded late and eventually finished tied-sixth.
Ko has won three of the past four NZ Opens, her first coming in 2013 at just 15 years of age.