World No.1 amateur Lydia Ko has spent the week surrounded by media frenzy in Royal Liverpool but she feels like she is focused and ready to play well in her British Open debut.
The 15-year-old from the Gulf Harbour Country Club, who made history when she became the first Kiwi to win on the LPGA Tour and the youngest in history, wants to improve on her first appearance in a major where she placed tied 39th in the US Open.
With her recent run of form she’ll begin as one of the favourites when she tees off at 7:00am local time alongside Lexi Thompson and Kaori Ohe.
“I’m feeling pretty good,” said Ko after her practice round at Hoylake.
“I didn’t perform as well as I would have liked at the US Open so hopefully I’ll do a little better this week. But you know, all I want to do is make the cut and go from there. I don’t want to hurry things or get too far ahead of myself.”
That has proved easier said than done. Since creating history at the Canadian Open Ko has been inundated with media requests. It has been a different experience but she feels it hasn’t added any more pressure on her to perform.
“I don’t think the media demand has added any more pressure on me. It’s just a matter of dealing with it and putting it in its place and then preparing to play.”
Once again Ko will make history when she plays at Royal Liverpool Golf Club.
She will become only the eighth New Zealand golfer to play the British Open following in the footsteps of Marnie McGuire, Lynnette Brooky, Susan Farron, Jan Arnold, Gina Scott, Kaye Maxwell and Karrin Young.
She is the first Kiwi amateur to play the event since Brooky back in 1993 when the Wellington player finished tied 37th at Woburn and the fifth placed amateur.
McGuire and Brooky share the best finish by a New Zealander at the event when they both finished tied 14thin 1994 and 2003 respectively.
Ko will have those records in her sights. She has found Hoylake to be very demanding. She expected the cut to be much higher than it was at the Canadian Open.
“It’s a very links based golf course and the fairways are quite narrow but greens aren’t as fast because of the weather at the moment so it’s going to be just the tee shots. There are also pot bunkers where the drives will go so nothing is easy here.”
It’s been a whirlwind few weeks for the teenage star but in her low-key way she is taking it all in stride. She believes she has been building the past couple of years to be prepared for big tournaments.
“I won a couple of major amateur events last year but I won two professional events this year so it’s similar. I did make history twice this year so I guess it is better this year. I guess I’m getting used to making history [laughs].”
Ko said the key to her recent run of form has been her short game.
“My putting has been great. Before, in other tournaments, my putting didn’t perform as good as my long game. But right then my putting was there to support my long game so that was really helpful. My putting has given me much more confidence and that’s the biggest difference.”
She is looking forward to the opportunity of playing alongside the world’s best players again.
“I’m pretty confident about my game. But I’m not going to win everything and play good every single time so you never know what’s going to happen. It is hard that the media and everyone expect me to win every event now. It’s a bit unrealistic. But I will be giving it my best.”
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