Tears of joy, and relief, for Ko in emotional victory

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Lydia Ko never cried after winning.

That changed Sunday on the outskirts of San Francisco.

Her victory at the Mediheal Championship wasn’t the most historic of Ko’s already remarkable career, but it was easily the most emotional of her 15 LPGA titles.

She couldn’t stop the river of tears streaming down her face after she made eagle to defeat Minjee Lee on the first playoff hole with an epic 3-wood she described as the best shot of her life.

She cried when her older sister, Sura, fell into her arms on the 18th green.

She cried when she turned and saw her mother, Tina.

She cried when she saw her swing coach, Ted Oh, wiping away his own tears, and when her caddie, Jonnie Scott, hugged her.

“I cried like four times in the span of two minutes, which is kind of embarrassing,” Ko said. “I’m like, ‘God, get a hold of yourself.’”

The tears were the story at Lake Merced Golf Club.

Relief, joy, and gratefulness broke the dam of Ko’s heart.

The strength of those emotions revealed the depth of the struggle she waged, fighting through all the doubt and frustration that built in the first slump of her career. She cried seeing the faces that believed in her through the 21 months and 12 days since her last victory.

“I think it was emotional because they’ve been through it with me,” Ko said. “It’s not like you’re the only one out there. The whole team’s part of it, and they put in as much hard work as I have. That’s why it’s so meaningful.”

(Published April 30, 2018 – Randall Mell for Golf Channel)

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