New Zealand Golf Magazine
LYDIA KO FALLS OFF THE PACE
Lydia Ko proved during this U.S. Open that she is certainly back. It probably didn’t need to be proven as she has already shown throughout this interrupted LGPA 2020 year that she has got her mojo back.
Five top ten finishes, an increase in driving length and an all-round improved demeanour for Ko meant she was always going to be in the hunt at the 2020 U.S. Open. And she was until the rain came.
As rain overnight on Friday made the Cypress Creek course soggy and muddy in places and the wind changed direction from previous days, Lydia Ko held firm and posted a 1-over par round of 72 to be sitting tied for 5th place on even par.
Ko was striving to become the first U.S. Open winner for New Zealand since Michael Campbell won the U.S. Open in 2005.
“I think definitely coming from behind you’re playing with a little bit more of an aggressive strategy compared to somebody that’s probably trying to protect the lead or run off with the lead,” Ko said.
Before the rain halted play on Sunday, Ko was already feeling the cold on course and she would need to prepare for temperatures below 10 degrees once play restarted on Monday.
“I wore a lot of layers today,” Ko laughed, “No, I have a former prime minister in New Zealand gave [me]a nickname called “onion” because I played with him once and I kept stripping off my layers and he was like, Man, you’re like an onion, like taking a layer off, taking a layer off.
“I think you just have to stay as warm as possible, but still be able to swing freely, obviously because there’s a lot of rotation, you don’t want to feel like you’re really restricted. When it’s super cold I’ll have a hand warmer or something just to keep the hands from getting tense and feeling cold.”
If she were to win, Ko would be the eighth player to win the U.S. Women’s Open and U.S. Women’s Amateur in her career. Unfortunately, that record won’t be reached this year.
After remaining on even par early on in the final round, the par-3 4th hole was the start of a drop that would see Ko drop off the pace from the leaders.
Ko would drop three shots on the front nine and then bogey 10 and 11 to be 5-over for the day and the championship.
As Amy Olson and Hidako Shibuno would succumb to A Lim Kim, Ko would hold her nerve with pars for the rest of the round to finish the tournament with a 5-over 289, tied for 13th place.
With one tournament left to play for Ko, the year ending CME Group Tour Championship where she will be ranked 11th, the year that has been so tough for many could still finish on a huge high for the Kiwi.