Lydia Ko’s left wrist can swell “hideously.”
The Rolex world No. 3 has to ice it after rounds.
At its worst, the bump on the 17-year-old’s wrist swells so large it affects the position she gets the club in her swing.
Cysts are the cause of the swelling, according to Michael Yim, Ko's IMG agent. Doctors have told Ko they developed with her rigorous practice regimens. They’ve been bothering her through the summer, and she had fluids that build up in them drained last week, so she could get herself ready for the year’s final major championship, next week’s Evian Championship in France.
How her wrist reacts next week could be a large factor in determining if she decides to shut down her season early and have surgery to get ready for 2015, or if she plays through the injury and waits until season’s end to reassess her options.
Yim says doctors have told Ko the cysts are benign, and she could play with them forever, but ...
“It will be just a matter of time until the fluids refill and the swelling comes back,” Yim said. “Doctors say it could be weeks, or it could be months.”
Ko has consulted with Tom Graham, a hand specialist with the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio. Yim said surgery to seal the cysts is the only way to prevent the swelling from continually returning, and while surgery is a likely option, it’s up to Ko to decide.
“She will play Evian and see how the wrist feels,” Yim said. “If it’s fine, she will continue to play.”
Remarkably, Ko has played well with her wrist issues this year. She won the Swinging Skirts Classic in April and the Marathon Classic in July. She’s in position at Evian to become the youngest No. 1 in the history of professional golf.
If the wrist worsens at Evian, Ko will re-examine her options. It’s possible she could decide to have surgery after Evian and skip the LPGA’s Asian swing and possibly the season-ending CME Group Titleholders. Or she could have the wrist drained again, and play through the end of the year, and decide to have surgery following the CME Group Titleholders.
She could need up to eight weeks to recover from surgery.
“It’s really up to Lydia,” Yim said. “She controls her destiny.”
Swing coach David Leadbetter, who works with Ko along with his assistant, Sean Hogan, believes surgery is inevitable.
“She’s probably going to have to have it done, because it does bother her,” Leadbetter said. “Sometimes, it inhibits her mobility, and there is the possibility she could be in the middle of a final round and it flares up. Ultimately, I think she has to have something done about it.”