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On the edge of greatness, Lydia Ko wants more

NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Thu, 28 Mar 2024, 1:31PM
Lydia Ko remains one win away from the Hall of Fame. Photo / Getty Images
Lydia Ko remains one win away from the Hall of Fame. Photo / Getty Images

On the edge of greatness, Lydia Ko wants more

NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Thu, 28 Mar 2024, 1:31PM

It’s on everyone’s mind except Lydia Ko’s as the Kiwi golf has another shot at golfing supremacy this weekend.

Ko has another shot at making the LPGA Hall of Fame, a goal hanging over her every time she steps up to the tee at an event until she walks away a winner.

The world number eight needs just one more victory to earn a spot in the Hall of Fame and her latest attempt is at the Ford Championship in Arizona starting tomorrow NZT.

She’s come very close to the milestone twice already this season. At the Drive On Championship in January, holding a three-shot lead in the clubhouse before Nelly Korda forced a playoff with an eagle-birdie finish before winning the playoff.

Again, Ko got close again at the Blue Bay LPGA event in China earlier this month, holding a share of the lead going into the final round before Bailey Tardy took out the event with a stunning seven-under final round.

But being so near to the accomplishment is not bothering Ko.

“I don’t think I fall asleep or wake up in a day thinking about the Hall of Fame. I think people around me think about it more than I do. To be honest, last year I thought a lot about it, just because you’re so close,” Ko told media today.

“Being in the Hall of Fame was never really a big goal of mine because I didn’t think that I was maybe capable to be part of those players that’s already in the Hall of Fame.

“After such a great year in ‘22 I think it was the first time I was like, oh, maybe I could be a Hall of Famer. Obviously we all know that last year didn’t go as well as I would’ve liked.

“But, I said before in other interviews, being one point away seems a little easier than two. Sometimes it’s just easier said than done. Some players win for their first time in ten years. It’s just not that easy.”

Ko tees off at 8.56am Friday alongside Korda, has won her last two events, the last also coming in a playoff, and world number three Celine Boutier.

“Clearly Nelly is showing that it is pretty easy winning two weeks in a row, but when I’m out there I’m just trying to play the best golf I can. Obviously had a chance to be able to win again at Blue Bay, but Bailey played amazing. I came off the round saying I still played well. I could have been better, but I don’t think I could have played better than how Bailey played.

“Sometimes other players just play better than you. All you can do is do your best. But I’m just going to keep giving myself good opportunities and good chances, and I think instead of setting my goal to just be in the Hall of Fame, like while I’m competitively playing I want to win and compete at the highest level as much as I can.

“Not just kind of set my end goal as the Hall of Fame. I think sometimes that makes you more narrow-minded and makes me feel like, okay, I just need to win one. But I want to win more than one as long as I’m still playing.”

Ko is in year 12 as a professional golfer but is still finding ways to improve her game and even more sacrifices to make. It’s worked so far in 2024 picking up career victory number 28 in the season opener along with two top fives. She leads the lowest scoring average for the season with another Vare Trophy win being another way she can earn a Hall of Fame point.

She says her mental game is in a good place where the rare poor rounds not having as big an effect on her.

“I think I just have a little bit more of a different mindset going into this year. If I’m having to make more sacrifices or maybe an hour less sleep or whatever, it’s just the small things. I think I’m more willing to do it, and also willing to take time off if it makes me feel like I’m going to play at a higher level at one of the events I’m trying to peak at.”

“I do feel like I’m in a better place mentally. I didn’t play well in Singapore, but my sister and my husband was there. My husband said he felt so happy seeing me like not get so frustrated over a bad day. The first day I had a birdie-free round. Nobody wants a birdie-free round. You want bogey-free round, definitely not birdie-free.

“He said I looked like I was in a better place. Obviously getting that kind of feedback from the people that are close to you is great. I think that gives me I think more motivation to keep working on the right things with my mental coach and keep doing what I’m doing and do other things to just keep improving.”

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