April 23, 2015 / Athlete To Watch Ko can cope

By Patrick Galloway (@pat_galloway1)

Lydia Ko doesn’t strike you as the tattoo type.

But after winning this event last year she felt the need to permanently etch the date on her wrist. Looking back, it makes sense that she marked the day. It was the start of her rise to the top.

And what a whirlwind twelve months it’s been.

The 17-year-old went onto win in Melbourne at the ISPS Handa Australian Women’s Open, post two runner-ups, and make three additional top-10 finishes. She also won the New Zealand Open on the LET and snared the World Number One ranking in the process.

Ko poses with her home Country’s NZ Golf Open trophy in March.
Ko poses with her home Country’s NZ Golf Open trophy in March.

What’s interesting about this week is that it comes after a slight turn of form.

Ko clung to the Number One spot this week despite rival Inbee Park finishing second at the Lotte Championship which was the most recent stop of the LPGA Tour.
And at the season’s first major last month the ANA Inspiration, Ko was far from her best.

“I really shouldn’t think of them as a different tournament or different scale, but somehow I just go there and I don’t feel like my game is up to the standard. That kind of happened at ANA, so I’m trying to learn.” Ko said.

While it was eye-opening, it did mean that she snapped her streak of 10 consecutive top-10 finishes and that run of 29 consecutive rounds under par, tying Annika Sorenstam was also cut. Perhaps that’s a good thing.

“The majors, they give me butterflies a lot.”

There’s no shortage of competition on the LPGA Tour. Ko is pictured far right.
There’s no shortage of competition on the LPGA Tour. Ko is pictured far right.

Now the New Zealander is back in more familiar territory, at one of her favourite events – the LPGA Tour’s, Swinging Skirts Classic. 19 of the world’s best 20 are in action in San Francisco and it will be back to the drawing board for Ko.

She took it down to the wire last year, firing off a birdie on the 72nd hole to defeat Stacy Lewis by a single shot in the event’s inaugural edition. The crowd even sang “Happy Birthday” to her on the green, it must have felt like life couldn’t any better.

Ko is 18 tomorrow. No doubt she’d lap up another rendition if she plays to her best.