Lydia Ko Looking to Rebound After Poor Major Season
It hasn’t been the season that Lydia Ko hoped for, but she’s now able to give herself grace.
After all, Ko wasn’t sure she’d ever be back in this position, back among the top 5 players in the world, back among the headliners at the final major championship of the year.
The winningest teenager in LPGA history endured more than a 1,000-day drought before a resurgent victory in 2021, then she completed her comeback story with a memorable 2022 that included three victories (including the LPGA’s $2 million finale), a return to the No. 1 spot in the world rankings and, finally, a wedding at the end of the year.
Full-field tee times from the AIG Women’s Open
“I don’t think I could have even written that in my diary and go, ‘Dear Diary, I’m going to win three times this year and I’m going to get married to the love of my life,’” Ko told reporters Tuesday ahead of the AIG Women’s Open. “That’s probably a story I wouldn’t have even been able to imagine, but that happened.”
Expectations for Ko, now 26, continued to soar after she won in her first start of the new year, in Saudi Arabia. But her season has flatlined after that, and she enters the year’s final major wishing she were in better form. She has just a single top-10 on the LPGA this year, back in February, and has been particularly poor in the majors, with no finish better than 33rd. She has fallen to No. 5 in the world and 79th in the season-long points race, which she won last year for the third time.
“If I said I’m happy with how I’ve been playing, or that I still feel like I’ve been doing OK, I think that would be a lie,” Ko said. “The honest answer is, I do wish I had put myself in contention and was a little bit more consistent.”
“In ways, I think internally, even though I was trying not to, I think I was comparing myself a lot to the year I had last year,” she said. “I didn’t think I could ever go back to No. 1 after being 50-something in the world.
“Last year I was like, No, I’m probably never going to go back in that position – I just want to be able to win and be in contention again.”
But Ko accomplished more than that, of course, and it appeared as though she could be even better than during the height of her powers. But that hasn’t panned out, at least not yet, and Ko said that she had a “wakeup call” after missing the cut at the Chevron Championship in April, when she felt like the outsized expectations she had created for herself had derailed her progress.
“I’m just trying to do a better job of the things I can control, and I feel like we’re moving in the right direction,” Ko said. “It’s kind of frustrating – you see improvement, but the results might not necessarily show, and sometimes I’m having a hard time to bring that all together. But it’s not like I’ve not been in this position before.”
Ko, who hasn’t won a major since 2016, will begin the Open at Walton Heath at 3:20 a.m. ET Thursday alongside new No. 1 Nelly Korda and local favorite Charley Hull.