Wynne Gray is a Herald columnist

Lydia Ko looking good ahead of first major of the year

Lydia Ko. Photo / AP
Lydia Ko. Photo / AP

Lydia Ko is a short-priced favourite to win this week's Kia Classic in California.

It will probably be the same next week when the LPGA hosts the first major of the season, the ANA Inspiration at the nearly Rancho Mirage course.

Last year Ko became the youngest major winner on the LPGA tour at 18 years 4 months and 20 days when the Korean-born Kiwi closed with a wonderful 63 to win the Evian Championship.

Koreans have dominated the LPGA results this year winning four of the six tournaments while Ko remains No 1 in the rankings but has yet to make it onto the winner's perch.

She's had three top 10's and was runner-up last week to Sei Young Kim who obliterated the field with a final round 62 to finish five shots clear at 27 under par.

Ha Na Yang (twice) and Hyo Joo Kim have helped deliver this year's Korean dominance which has only been split by Haru Nomura from Japan and the USA's Lexi Thompson.

This week's event at the Aviara Golf Club has 98 of last year's top 100 money earners teeing it up as they sharpen their games for the first major. The experienced Christie Kerr will defend the title she won with a record score last year.

Much of the focus has been on Jang with two wins so far and a worst finish of 13th in the six tournaments she has played this year.

However they will all be eying Ko who may not have won a tournament but has kept her form and a scoring average well below 70.

She tied for third at the Coastes Championship, second at the Australian Open, tied 15th at the HSBC champions and second last week at the JTBC Founders Cup.

- NZ Herald

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