Lydia Ko is back with a renewed confidence as she prepares for New Zealand's week in the golfing spotlight.
Ko has returned to tee up at next week's New Zealand Women's Open, which has attracted a top class field in its first edition as an LPGA Tour event.
The 20-year-old will be one of the favourites at the Windross Farm course; coming off two strong performances, having finished second in Indianapolis and third at the Evian Championship last weekend. At the Evian, a bogey on the final hole saw Ko fall short by one shot at the final major of the year, but she believes the last two weeks signal a big boost to her chances of picking up her first victory of the season.
"It's a huge confidence thing - playing well in Indianapolis gave me confidence going into Evian, sometimes little things like that are things that make a huge difference," Ko told the Herald.
"Confidence is so huge that it can really change your rhythm, hopefully I'll be able to feed off the last few results into next week."
Despite claiming nine top 10 finishes in 20 starts, Ko's 2017 season has not been at the level of her previous campaigns, due to the 14-month absence of a tournament victory. With expectations having been set at a high bar following her lengthy reign as world number one, anything short of consistent contention is seen as a drop down from the heights of the last three years.
"I've been very fortunate about the things that have happened in my career so far, it's almost like the expectation level became so high from everyone," notes Ko.
"Every player has their ups and downs and you just have to fight through it, stay positive and work hard, so that's what I'm going to continue to do."
Part of the reason for Ko's comparative dry spell is the increasing competition on the LPGA Tour. The 2017 season has seen 20 different winners crowned in just 26 tournaments; a higher variance of victors than in previous years. Additionally, the last 10 majors have all been won by different golfers, as new stars come to the fore.
"The LPGA has so much talent right now that it's tough to win, you've just got to keep fighting," says Ko.
"Everyone's so incredibly talented and all the players work so hard and that's shown by their results. I think we all sort of motivate each other and that way it improves all of us."