Three wins, a wedding, and reaching the summit of the Women’s Rolex Rankings. Last year was an incredible one for Lydia Ko.However, the Kiwi has admitted she’s found it difficult to stop comparing this season to those highs of last year.The New Zealander won the Gainbridge LPGA at Boca Rio, BMW Ladies Championship, and the CME Group Tour Championship, before returning to the Rolex Rankings summit for the first time in more than five years.
“In ways, I think internally, even though I was trying not to, I think I was comparing myself a lot to the year I had last year,” the Kiwi said. “I didn’t think I could ever go back to No. 1 after being 50-something in the world and playing alongside Jinyoung [Ko] or Nelly [Korda] or Celine [Boutier] who has won, you know, these past two weeks. “I think like last year, I was thinking I’m probably never going to go back in that position. I just want to be able to win and be in contention again. And for me to have won three times, winning my last tournament of the season, and getting married, there were just like so many great things.
“I don’t think I could have even written that on my diary and go, ‘Dear Diary, I’m going to win three times this year and going to get married to like the love of my life.’ That’s probably a story I wouldn’t have even been able to imagine but that happened.” This season has not seen the same highs, despite a win in the Aramco Saudi Ladies International on the Ladies European Tour at the start of the year.
She has not recorded a top 30 result in the four majors so far this year, with the AIG Women’s Open being her last chance of winning a major for the first time since 2016.“To be honest, I wish I was playing a lot better golf and to have been more in contention at majors, because that’s when you’re trying to peak throughout the season,” Ko added. “Obviously even if you don’t — if you play okay but like peak at the majors, that’s where I think you realise, okay, ‘my game is still at a good place’.
“If I said, you know, I’m happy with how I’ve been playing, you know, I still feel like I’ve been doing okay, I think that would be a lie. Honest answer is, I do wish I had put myself more in contention and was a little bit more consistent.” After three top ten finishes to end the 2022 major season, Ko missed the cut at this year’s first major, the Chevron Championship. She did so in brutal fashion, having to play just a single hole on Saturday morning to finish her second round.
“Coming into this year, I started with a bang, winning my first tournament of my season,” Ko continued. “You know, I think I put a lot of expectations [on myself], and actually missing the cut at the Chevron was a bit of a wake-up call for me. “I think, like, I had to play one hole on Saturday. You never want to come play one hole on Saturday and not play the next two rounds.
“But like, I did some practise, talked with my team, and it was just a moment for me to reassess where I’m at. I kind of took a step back and said what are the things that I can do that I can control and do better at.“Sometimes I’m going to have okay weeks, okay days, and still be top 10 and sometimes I think I feel like I should have won but somebody plays better than me and they win.” Ko has only finished in the top ten at the AIG Women’s Open on two occasions, including tied seventh finish at Muirfield 12 months ago.
She is looking forward to the different test that Walton Heath will provide, compared to the links courses of the last few years at this event. “I’ve only actually played well at the Women’s Open like twice in my career, once was at Turnberry and the second time was at Muirfield last year,” she added. “I think last year I was super excited to go to a very historic venue, and the first time that the ladies have played the Women’s Open, so there was a lot of hype about it, and for me to have played really well was like an added bonus.
“This week’s golf course here at Walton Heath is very different. Before I came here people said this is a heathland-style golf course, and I had no idea what that meant. Everybody said stay out of the heather, stay out of the bunker. And I was like, so you pretty much want me to hit it like from fairway to green, and obviously that is the best-case scenario.
“I think when you know you’re going to a golf course that isn’t super linksy, you are a little sceptical because we only play over on this side of the world like a couple times and I wasn’t really sure what it was going to be like. “But you know, the golf course is super nice. It’s in really good condition, and it actually feels more linksy than you think, and the heather definitely comes into play.”