Golf: Ko feeling confident in New York

World No 1 amateur golfer Lydia Ko is brimming with confidence heading into her fifth major championship at the US Open in Southampton, New York this week. Photo / Getty Images.
World No 1 amateur golfer Lydia Ko is brimming with confidence heading into her fifth major championship at the US Open in Southampton, New York this week. Photo / Getty Images.

World No 1 amateur golfer Lydia Ko is brimming with confidence heading into her fifth major championship at the US Open in Southampton, New York this week.

The 16-year-old from Gulf Harbour Country Club, who was the youngest winner in LPGA Tour history last year when she claimed the CN Canadian Open, came close to securing her second title on the tour last week in Arkansas.

She delivered a stirring challenge for the title in the final round only to come up two strokes short of the 12-under-par playoff total to finish in a share of fourth place.

Ko will once again look to become the youngest major winner in history in both the men's and women's records.

She has come a long way in 12 months.

At her first US Open Ko admitted to having shaking hands on the first tee from nerves as she made her major debut. Now four majors later she is much more comfortable on golf's biggest stage.

"I'm feeling pretty good,'' said Ko after her final practice round at the Sebonack Golf Club.

"I played well last week so I'm confident going into this week.''

Ko likes the Sebonack Golf Club. It's a layout that has been described as a "second shot course'' and that should suit her brilliant ball-striking which is the trademark of her game.

"It's tough out here so I'm just going to play one shot at a time and go from there. You need to be creative at Sebonack so I have got to use my creativity skills.''

Ko will also have plenty of local knowledge on her side. Louis de Kerillis, who is the assistant professional at Sebonack, will caddy for her as she looks to break Inbee Park's record of being the youngest winner of the US Open at the age of 19.

The Pinehurst School Student has made a habit of rewriting the record books in her phenomenal career.

She is also looking to break the records of American Morgan Pressel who was the youngest women's winner in major history when she claimed the 2007 Kraft Nabisco Championship at the age of 18 years, 10 months and nine days and Tom Morris who claimed the 1868 British Open when he was aged 17 years, five months and eight days.

But Ko is downplaying all of the hype that surrounds her ahead of her tee off tomorrow (fri, nzt) alongside defending champion South Korean Na Yeon Choi and American Brittany Lincicome.

"I'm going to try and think of it as just another tournament not a major.''

If her performance in Arkansas is anything to go by - where she shot rounds of 69, 66 and 69 for a 10-under-par three-round total - then treating it as ``just another tournament'' will see her well in contention to become New Zealand's first women's major champion.

Her week at Arkansas was remarkable as she contended like a seasoned pro.

The New Zealand Women's Open Champion has finished as the leading amateur in all four major championships she has played and will all take some confidence from her last major at the LPGA Championship.

She opened with a five-over-par 77 to be in a share of 90th place but rallied superbly to climb to tied 17th after four rounds.

"I didn't have a good start at the LPGA Championship but if I have a better start I think I won't be as pressured on the next round to play better.''

Ko's record suggests that she handles pressure and the big occasion just fine. She is yet to miss a cut in 19 professional tournaments and her worst result for 2013 in pro events is a tie for 25th place.

- APNZ

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