“I'm two for two on this golf course - clearly something is going for me!,” said Ko as she celebrated her latest success at Royal Greens in King Abdullah Economic City on the Red Sea coast.
The Kiwi, who started the final day one shot off the lead, signed off with a 68 for a 21-under-par total, winning by a shot from in-form Indian Aditi Ashok (68).
American Lilia Vu, who held the overnight lead, had to settle for a share of third spot after running up a bogey-6 at the last when she needed a birdie to force a play-off with Ko.
“I don't think I was setting myself up for a lot of birdie opportunities on the front nine,” said Ko of her closing effort, “but I knew that every hole could be a birdie opportunity, so it was that mindset and I wanted to be aggressive. The 18th hole was a lot uglier than I would have liked to picture, but, in the end, it's definitely nice to get the win this week.”
The success was Ko’s 20th as a professional, with this one securing a $750,000 in one of the richest events in the women’s game outside the majors.
On an exciting final day, it wasn’t until her birdie on 17 that the two-time major champion moved into the outright lead before sealing the deal with a solid closing par.
“I’m just very grateful,” admitted Ko, who got married in the short close season. “A lot of great things happening, especially in the last few months again and again. I've been trying to enjoy being out on the golf course. I'm playing with the world's best. The field this week was really good, so I knew it was going to be a challenge.
“The first one of the year is really hard because you don't have anything to base yourself off. You don't know if you're going to play well or badly.”
Ashok’s excellent 2023 continued as she followed a win in Kenya then a third-place finish in Morocco by securing second spot. “It’s been great,” said the former St Rule Trophy winner of her sparkling run of form.
Vu finished alongside both Lexi Thompson (66) and Belgium’s Manon De Roey, who signed off with a best-of-the-day 63, on 19-under-par.
Denmark’s Emily Kristine Pedersen finished in outright sixth place on 17-under-par, with defending champion England’s Georgia Hall one shot behind in seventh. Scottish No 1 Gemma Dryburgh closed with a 70 to finish in a tie for 45th on four-under.
On the Challenge Tour, Liam Johnston closed with a 66 to end up joint-18th behind home winner JJ Senekal in the SDC Open at Zebula Golf Estate in Limpopo, where Craig Howie (70) tied for 38th.
Elsewhere, Gregor Tait and Matthew Wilson signed for matching three-under 69s to sit just outside the top ten after the first of two stroke-play qualifying rounds in the South African Amateur at Mount Edgecombe. Gregor Tait and Gregor Graham are also on course to qualify for the match-play phase after carding 70 and 71 respectively,