Lydia Ko’s under-par streak ends at 29 with 1-over 73
Mission Hills’ rough actually saved Lydia Ko some early strokes Friday in the ANA Inspiration. The thick tangled mess of Bermuda, rye and poa annua grasses struck back on the back nine to end her bid to break the LPGA Tour record for consecutive rounds under par.
The 17-year-old New Zealander hooked her drive on the par-5 second hole and got a break when the rough stopped the ball from going out of bounds. On the par-4 sixth, the rough stopped her drive — again farther left than she wanted — from going into the water. She made a birdie there.
The driving problems soon caught up to her in a streak-ending 1-over 73 in the second round of the first major championship of the year.
The top-ranked Ko missed eight of the 14 fairways, four to the left and four to the right.
She nearly got away with another birdie after hitting into the left rough on the par-4 13th, but her 15-foot putt circled the cup and came back at her.
Needing a birdie on the par-5 18th to extend the streak to 30, Ko hit her second shot 190 yards into the water after catching a flyer out of the right rough on her layup attempt.
“I just hit a three-quarter 6-iron,” Ko said. “I would have never guessed that I was going to hit a 6-iron 190, not even if I was Lexi (Thompson). Obviously, that was the wrong club at the end of the day, but I thought even if it flew out of there, it would have at least stopped.”
After a penalty drop, her fourth shot rolled 15 feet past and she missed the par putt.
On Thursday, Ko shot a 71 to tie the record set by Annika Sorenstam in 2004. Sorenstam is working the tournament as an analyst for Golf Channel.
“I applaud Lydia and her play over the last few months,” Sorenstam said. “I’m impressed with the composure she shows at such a young age.”
Ko’s worldwide streak, counting her victory in the Ladies European Tour’s New Zealand Women’s Open, ended at 32.
Ko was tied for 30th at even par, seven strokes behind second-round leader Sei Young Kim. Before Ko started her afternoon round, Kim eagled the 18th for a 65 to get to 7-under 137. The long-hitting South Korean player hit a hybrid to 6 feet to set up the eagle.
After the horseshoe on 13, Ko’s 13-foot birdie try on the par-3 14th went by the left edge and she bogeyed the par-4 15th to drop to even par.
On 15, she drove into the right rough and tried to play a draw around a large tree. She didn’t make clean contact and the ball came up short, hitting high in the right greenside bunker and tumbling to the bottom. Her blast was too hard and low and went through the green, leaving a 15-footer from the fringe that she couldn’t hole.
She missed a 20-foot birdie putt on the par-4 16th and a 10-footer on the par-3 17th. After Thompson holed a 13-foot par putt on 17 from the same line, Ko missed to the left.
On the front nine, Ko rebounded from bogeys on Nos. 3 and 5 with birdies on Nos. 6 and 7, then bogeyed No. 8 and birdied the par-5 ninth to make the turn at even par. She got to 1 under on the par-5 11th with what turned out to be her last birdie of the day.
Ko started the under-par streak in the first round of her victory last year in the season-ending event. She also won in Australia in February — the week before her New Zealand victory.
The teen made her 49th straight cut on the LPGA Tour, a careerlong streak that started with 15 events as an amateur. She also has 10 straight top-10 finishes.
First-round leader Morgan Pressel was second at 5 under after a 72.
Thompson, the defending champion, was tied for sixth at 3 under. She shot a 69, also bogeying the 18 after following Ko into the water.
Lexi Thompson hits out of the bunker on the second hole during the second round of the LPGA Tour ANA Inspiration golf tournament at Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage, California on Friday, April 3.