Golf: Ko makes solid start in California

Lydia Ko gets a chance this week to be the youngest major winner of all time at the Kraft Nabisco Championship in California. Photo / Getty Images
Lydia Ko gets a chance this week to be the youngest major winner of all time at the Kraft Nabisco Championship in California. Photo / Getty Images

World No 1 amateur Lydia Ko was happy enough with her solid start to her third major, the Kraft Nabisco Championship on the LPGA Tour in California, that could have been so much better but for a cold putter.

The 15-year-old from the Gulf Harbour Country Club shot an even-par 72 alongside golfing superstar Michelle Wie at the Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage today (Fri) to be in a share of 25th place after round one.

Ko is four shots back from the leading trio of South Korean Na Yeon Choi, Norway's Suzann Pettersen and England's Jodi Ewart Shadoff, who opened with rounds of four-under par 68 in the fine conditions.

Ko agreed that her even par score was as the worst score she could have had today considering the number of birdie opportunities she set up with her precise iron play.

``Yeah, especially the front nine, which was my back nine, a few [putts] slipped by, and I said, `oh, man, not again','' said the youngest winner in pro golf history.

``I think it was a pretty solid start. My putts didn't fall, but I felt like I rolled it really well. I'm happy even though.''

The New Zealand Women's Open Champion, who began on the 10th tee, got off to a fast start with a birdie on her opening hole, but then gave it back with a bogey on the 11th.

``Yeah birdie on the first hole, that's always good, but then I don't play as good when I have a birdie on the first hole. But then I'll take it anyway.''

She repeated the birdie-bogey combination on the 14th and 15th before making a fine birdie on the 17th to make the turn in one under par and within touch of the leaders who at that stage were three under par.

Ko played steady golf on her back nine with a number of birdie chances until the par four seventh hole where she dropped a shot and had to settle for an even par 72 to be outside the top 20.

She enjoyed playing alongside Wie, who also carded an even-par 72 in round one, and is getting used to mixing with the glamour girls of the LPGA Tour.

``It was fun. She's my idol, so I was very excited. But I was less nervous today because I played with her at the Australian Open.''

The New Zealand rep, who has climbed to World No 25 on the Official World Rankings, has never missed a cut in the 14 professional events she has played since making her debut in a pro event at the New Zealand Women's Open in 2010.

She has won three titles, finished runner-up twice and third once in world-class fields to earn an amateur record that is one of the best ever seen in the game.

This week in California she is trying to become the youngest major winner.

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