SOUTHERN PINES, NORTH CAROLINA | She has been one of the most consistent players on the LPGA Tour this year with all her stats trending in the right direction. So it was a surprise on Tuesday at the US Women’s Open presented by ProMedica when Lydia Ko said, “I feel like there’s been ups and downs, and I still feel like there’s a lot of things to work on just to be a little bit more consistent throughout my game. “
More consistent? Do tell. Ko has played eight LPGA Tour events so far in 2022 and has yet to be out of the top-25. She has a win – the Gainbridge LPGA at Boca Rio, the second event of the season – which came right after a tie for 10th at the Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions. Since then, she has a tie for third at the Palos Verdes Championship presented by Bank of America and a couple more T12 finishes. She’s number one on Tour in putts per round, number two in sand saves, number four in putts per green in regulation, fifth on the official money list, sixth in Race to the CME Globe, and number nine at the moment in the Rolex Player of the Year race. If that’s not enough, she’s 10th in birdies per round and 11th in rounds in the 60s and sub-par holes played.
But perhaps the most impressive stat is her Rolex Ranking. As anyone who follows the women’s game knows, Ko was the youngest player in history, man or woman, to reach No.1 in the world at age 17. Then, during a slump that had the golf world second-guessing the poor girl’s every decision, she ended 2019 ranked 40th. Before the first round of this US Women’s Open, Ko is No.3 in the Rolex Rankings behind only Jin Young Ko and Nelly Korda.
Still, the attitude that made her a perfectionist remains.
“I don’t think anyone ever feels like they’re perfect,” Ko said. “There’s always something that could improve, even when things are going well. It’s nice to kind of have my attention focused on the things that I want to work on, and hopefully those things that will work this week.
“Even when I finished tied third at Palos Verdes, I felt like there were things I needed to improve on,” Ko said. “Yeah, even when you win or you have a great week – you know, coming off Gainbridge, I knew the things I wanted to work on in the four weeks leading up to the Asia Swing – overall I realize when my ball-striking is there it puts a little bit less pressure on my short game and the results are able to come. “
Since she was a youngster, Ko has been a golf genius, a player who never bit off more than she could chew and who always knew how to maximize the best parts of her game. She was a short-game savant with a teenaged smile. Now, she is longer and has more shot-shapes in her arsenal di lei, but the instincts are the same.
“Sometimes the ball-striking is great, and the putting is not as good and vice versa,” she said to further explain herself. “Just trying to get that more polished. I think that way it puts less pressure on the other things.
“Driving consistency would be probably my biggest thing. We’ve been trying to work on that, and I think the more times I keep putting those repetitions in, they’re all things that add up.
“It might not show right away, but I know that all those reps count.”
Ko has two majors on her impressive resume. A US Women’s Open title would be the center jewel in her dazzling career crown di lei.