Wynne Gray is a Herald columnist

Golf: Lydia Ko heads to major without added pressures

Lydia Ko. photo / AP
Lydia Ko. photo / AP

A year ago Lydia Ko matched Annika Sorenstam's streak of 29 consecutive under par rounds.

In the punishing winds at Mission Hills, Ko's stellar short game saved her round as she opened with a 1-under par. That impressive feat boosted conjecture Ko would blitz the record run and nail an elusive first major.

The next day, her driver was uncooperative and when she needed a birdie on the last to extend her streak, Ko dumped her lay-up iron shot into the water.

Ko returns to the same course without any pressure about under-par streaks or questions about her first major. She claimed the Evian Championship as the youngest major winner and has dished up strong form in her five tournaments this season.

"Going into last year, there was Annika's (Sorenstam) record of the under-par streak, so I had that going on, and I don't have to worry about that," said Ko. "I think my goal is to have my personal best finish at ANA.

"That's a good start. I didn't strike the ball very well last year there, so hopefully I'll be able to hit a few more fairways and give myself a good chance."
Coach David Leadbetter thinks so.

"I would say she is playing better than I have ever seen her to be honest, which is quite something," he said after her Kia Classic victory.

Ko's statistics in that event were mighty impressive as she closed with three birdies to beat Inbee Park by four and claim her 11th LPGA win.

Ko hit 43 of 56 fairways, 61 of 72 greens in regulation and averaged 28.5 putts a round.
The question seems to be can Lydia Ko swim rather than should we measure her up for the bathrobe the winner's wears after a traditional leap into Poppie's Pond next to the 18th hole.

- NZ Herald

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