Kang wins the 2020 Marathon Classic
SYLVANIA, Ohio - When Lydia Ko stepped to the 13th tee at the Marathon LPGA Classic presented by Dana, she had a five-stroke lead over Danielle Kang and appeared to have a third tournament title firmly in her grasp. Six holes later, it was Kang hoisting the trophy after Ko fell apart down the stretch at Highland Meadows Golf Club.
“Definitely, it was a lot of up and downs going on. I made some little mistakes here and there, but I definitely answered with some birdies, which was good, and kept me in my momentum,” said Kang.
“The back nine, I just had six holes to play and all of a sudden I was five shots back. That three-putt (on No. 12) was a bit much, and I just said to my caddie, ‘Man, that’s too costly.’ He said, ‘You got six holes left, five down.’ That put me in a little bit of a match play mentality, and hit some great shots coming in. I think that was crucial.”
Kang converted long birdie putts at 13 and 14 while Ko bogeyed 14, cutting Ko’s advantage to two strokes with four holes to go. After Ko bogeyed the 16th, she took a one-stroke advantage to the final hole.
On the par-5 closing hole, things truly came undone for Ko. Her approach sprayed far right of the green, and after taking relief from a cart path and deliberating between clubs, she skulled her third shot across the green and into the greenside rough. Kang’s approach found a left greenside bunker, but she successfully got up and down for par. Ko’s fourth shot hit the fringe and trickled back into a bunker, leading to a catastrophic double bogey that handed the title to her close friend Kang.
“I was trying to bump it there. It was in a pretty fluffy lie,” said Ko of her shot from the bunker at 18. “It was probably going to be a tough one for me to hit a high one. And with how the greens are reacting, I think if I had hit a high one, I was probably going to end up on the other side of the hill. So I just don’t think I hit it as hard as I should have maybe into the bank, but it’s, you know, very like minimal things. Even my first chip. If I had hit it 4 feet shorter, then maybe it would’ve stayed on the green. Who knows?”
With the win, Kang becomes the first LPGA Tour player to win back-to-back events since Shanshan Feng won the 2017 TOTO Japan Classic and Blue Bay LPGA.
“I feel pretty good. I mean, I won two weeks in a row, so that’s good,” said Kang. “I’m really proud of all the work that I did during the off-time, all the work that I did with Butch and all the workouts that I put in. I really utilized that time, and I’m proud to come out during this quarantine and be able to execute my game the way I wanted to. That’s what I’m most proud of.”
England’s Jodi Ewart Shadoff recovered from a third-round 73 to shoot a bogey-free 67 on Sunday and tied for second with Ko at -14. Australian Minjee Lee holed out for eagle from the rough at No. 17 and then birdied the closing hole to finish alone in fourth at -13. A trio of Americans rounded out the top five in a tie for fifth – Andrea Lee, Marina Alex and Emma Talley.