Wegmans LPGA: Ko inches closer to 1st major title
Friday, August 15, 2014
PITTSFORD, N.Y. –– Young Tom Morris won the 1868 Open Championship at 17 years, 5 months and 8 days. Lydia Ko’s window to beat that record and become the youngest winner in major championship history is quickly closing.
Ko, who at 17 years 3 months and 22 days already owns four LPGA titles, inched closer to her first major title at the Wegmans LPGA Championship when she carded a 3-under 69 Friday to move into a tie for fourth and trail big-hitting Brittany Lincicome by four strokes.
“When I’m on the course I don’t know what age I am,” said Ko, who won her first LPGA title at age 15, the week after she captured the U.S. Women’s Amateur title.
Ko felt pain in her left wrist on Thursday as she hit balls on the range, saying at one point she could barely hold onto her driver. She went to see the LPGA physician on site after the round and said the tape helped. David Leadbetter, Ko’s swing coach, said on Thursday that it was a recurring injury that may even require surgery.
“It feels better compared to yesterday,” said Ko on Friday, “so that’s good news that it’s not getting worse.”
Ko’s day began with a 30-foot bomb for birdie on the first hole. She hit 14 fairways in Round 2 and 15 greens in regulation, a significant improvement over the nine greens she hit on Thursday.
The Kiwi acts like records and “first person to” accolades don’t occupy her mind. Neither does that top ranking, though a victory on Sunday would vault Ko into the No. 1 spot over Stacy Lewis. (Lewis would have to finish solo second to maintain her ranking should Ko win. She’s even par through two rounds.)
With her victory last month at the Marathon Classic, the rookie’s second this season, she became the youngest player in LPGA history to cross the $1 million mark in career earnings.
“Pretty sure that goes into my mom's account or something,” said Ko, who gets $10 extra for every shot under par. So if she finished a tournament at 15 under, she’d get an extra $150.
The biggest question surrounding young Ko this season has been her caddie parade. She’s had nine since she turned professional last fall, including her father for one round in Hawaii.
Several caddies were on a three-tournament trial, and it seems Greg Johnston has passed the test. The veteran caddie of 28 years first looped for Ko in Arkansas where they tied for second. They won in Toledo, their third start together, and are slated to finish out the season.
Johnston has nearly 30 LPGA titles (when asked, he didn’t have time to count) to his credit and has worked for some of the biggest names in the game: Juli Inkster, Michelle Wie, Suzann Pettersen and Lexi Thompson.
Ko admitted that, on the course, she doesn’t have a natural “fire.” She gives quiet waves rather than ferocious fist-pumps. In Johnston, Ko and her mom found someone whose spunk and humor can invigorate.
Time to make a little history.