Lydia Ko ended a 1,084-day victory drought with an absolute dart present at the Lotte Championship. Call it a breakthrough, a comeback, a resurgence, a feel-good win for anybody who loves golf.
Ko didn’t simply win at Kapolei, she owned the place, and gosh was it enjoyable. When it was over, Ko stated she took inspiration from latest drought-ending victories by Jordan Spieth (1,351 days) and Hideki Matsuyama (1,344 days).
“That kind of gave me a little bit of hope saying maybe I could follow that trend,” stated Ko, who received the Lotte by seven strokes and now owns 16 LPGA titles. The 23-year-old Kiwi’s final victory got here on April 29, 2018, at the LPGA Mediheal Championship.
Ko completed the Lotte at 28-under 260 due to a closing 65. She’s 38 underneath par in her final 90 holes.
After that closing 62 at the ANA Inspiration, the bottom closing spherical in LPGA main historical past, it’s no shock to see Ko carry that momentum into Lotte, although it’s a aid. The winningest teenager within the historical past of the LPGA took a dip in her early 20s, profitable solely as soon as from July 2016 to this week on Oahu. An onslaught of adjustments drew criticism as Ko jumped from one teacher and caddie to the subsequent. Even her physique has reworked a number of occasions.
Ko credit teacher Sean Foley with serving to to resurrect her confidence.
“I just keep trying to point her inwards,” stated Foley whereas strolling round Augusta National final week.
It’s a matter of letting go of the wheel, he stated, and tapping into what’s deep inside her. Playing with freedom. It was essential that Ko didn’t attempt to pressure a victory, he stated, quoting a Buddhist phrase that the hen doesn’t come to the hand that’s greedy for it.
Ko entered the ultimate spherical in Hawaii with a one-shot lead over Nelly Korda after setting the 54-hole scoring report for the Lotte with a 21-under 195. It marked the fifteenth time Ko had shared the lead after 54 holes. She has now transformed seven of these leads into victories.
Golf Channel analyst Karen Stupples famous that for years many have puzzled if Ko would ever get again to kind that noticed her dominate the tour with 14 titles as a bespectacled teen.
“This version of Lydia Ko could potentially be even better,” Stupples stated.
LPGA Hall of Famer Inbee Park, who’s inching nearer to reclaiming the No. 1 rating, closed with a 63 to vault right into a share of second with Sei Young Kim, rookie Leona Maguire and Korda.
After needing solely 25 putts in every of her first three rounds, Korda took 32 putts in her closing spherical. The ice-cold putter took appreciable stress off Ko, who constructed her result in 5 by way of 10 holes.
Since reconnecting with coach Craig Davies, Ko has gained 15 kilos of muscle. Davies stated she goes at it so arduous within the health club that they’ve to inform her to reduce.
“I wouldn’t be able to walk after what she does,” stated Davies, who works with a variety of PGA Tour gamers, together with Gary Woodland and Cameron Champ.
One of the attributes that separates Ko from most, Davies stated, is that she’s not afraid to look foolish making an attempt one thing new, although she often catches on fairly shortly. Ko takes a holistic method to her coaching, he stated, and targets weaknesses.
A extra athletic-looking Ko has centered on stability and physique consciousness, particularly with the ability to maintain her kind when she begins to get fatigued late in a match.
An extended and stronger Ko has loved a outstanding consistency of late.
On Sunday at the ANA, Foley stated considered one of his different college students, Justin Rose, texted him updates when he was away from a TV.
“It’s the first time in a long time I had goosebumps doing my job,” stated Foley of Ko’s white-hot begin at Mission Hills.
Foley tells Ko that it’s not sufficient to be dedicated to pictures. He needs conviction.
“I can feel conviction,” stated Foley, circling his coronary heart with his hand.
Ko admitted to not sleeping properly going into the ultimate spherical of the Marathon Classic final summer time, the place she squandered a a five-shot lead with six holes to play. Ko additionally stated that she has, at occasions, puzzled if she’d ever get again to the winner’s circle.
“I slept great last night,” stated Ko. “I just said, ‘Hey, my fate is already chosen.”