(Reuters) - Seventeen year old Lydia Ko of New Zealand became the youngest golfer to become number one in world rankings by tying for second place at the LPGA season-opening Coates Golf Championship in Ocala, Florida, on Saturday.
The Korean-born Ko, led by as many as four strokes in the final round and slipped behind after a double-bogey six at the 17th hole as she finished one shot behind winner and good friend Choi Na-yeon of South Korea, who fired a 68.
Ko, who as a 15-year-old amateur in 2012 became the youngest ever winner on the tour, shot a one-under-par 71 for 15-under 273 to share second with American Jessica Korda and Jang Ha-na of South Korea at the Golden Ocala Golf and Equestrian Club.
The precocious Ko, who began the final round with a one-stroke lead, replaces Inbee Park at the top of the world rankings. Park posted 71 for four-under 284.
Ko also ended the 2014 season with a bang by winning the CME Titleholders event in November and a $1 million prize for claiming the season-long points race.
(Reporting by Larry Fine in New York; Editing by Steve Keating)