Top-ranked Ly­dia seeks more magic

New Straits Times - - Sport -

LOS AN­GE­LES: A run­ner-up fin­ish in last year’s LPGA Founders Cup sparked a back-to-back ti­tle run by top-ranked Ly­dia Ko, who re­turns this week hop­ing for more in the sea­son’s first US event.

The 19-year-old South Kore­an­born New Zealand star has not won since last July, work­ing on swing changes and even a new putting grip as she tries to re­main world num­ber one.

Ly­dia ar­rived at Wild­fire Golf Club in Phoenix, Ari­zona, ahead of yesterday’s start com­ing off top-10 show­ings in Thai­land and Sin­ga­pore in her past two LPGA events.

“Def­i­nitely nice to see some good re­sults the last cou­ple weeks in Asia,” Ly­dia said. “I hit the ball pretty well in Aus­tralia. I re­ally couldn’t score and I couldn’t make the putts... It was nice to see a few drop the last cou­ple weeks.

“To see those kind of good re­sults with all the changes that have hap­pened gives me a lit­tle bit of con­fi­dence go­ing into this stretch of events.”

It’s a run where she shined last year, go­ing from sec­ond at Phoenix to win­ning the Kia Clas­sic, a ti­tle she de­fends next week, and her sec­ond ma­jor crown at the ANA In­spi­ra­tion, a crown she tries to re­peat in two weeks at Ran­cho Mi­rage, Cal­i­for­nia.

“It’s al­ways nice to be back to a place where you’ve played well,” Ly­dia said. “I love the west coast. No mat­ter how well I play, I just en­joy these three stretch of events.”

It comes as Ly­dia is find­ing suc­cess af­ter chang­ing cad­dies, coaches and equip­ment providers. She is work­ing on a new swing that goes to the core of her pat­terns.

“Tran­si­tion-wise has ac­tu­ally been very easy and pretty smooth,” Ly­dia said. “I guess the hard part is be­cause I have my old habits and things that I’ve al­ways done since I was like five. Those things will al­ways creep in here and there.”

Ly­dia also de­cided it was time to ad­just her putting grip this year to a more con­ven­tional one.

“I came back from the off-sea­son and said, ‘Man, the left-hand low felt a lit­tle dif­fer­ent.’ It felt a lit­tle un­com­fort­able,” she said.

“Even short putts for the con­ven­tional grip and the num­bers were just as good or even bet­ter. That was one of the rea­sons I changed.”

Ly­dia has been atop the rank­ings for 73 con­sec­u­tive weeks, which builds ex­pec­ta­tions she hopes to ful­fil.

“There are ex­pec­ta­tions — be­cause you’re the num­ber one ranked play­ers you should play well ev­ery day, should be in con­tention ev­ery week,” she said. “I would love that and I’m work­ing to­wards be­ing more con­sis­tent week in and week out.” AFP

Ly­dia work­ing to­wards be­ing more con­sis­tent.

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