PARADISE ISLAND, Bahamas – Lydia Ko began her reign as Rolex world No. 1 in some of the toughest conditions LPGA pros will see.
With winds gusting up to 35 mph Friday, Ko battled hard on a long day to keep herself in contention at the Pure Silk Bahamas Classic. She played 28 holes in the gale, closing out a 1-under-par 72 in the morning and then going right back out after a short lunch to shoot 71.
At 3 under overall, Ko is four shots behind the leader in the clubhouse, Sun Young Yoo, in the suspended second round.
“To be honest, I thought they were going to stop play after we finished the first round,” Ko said. “It was an interesting day. In some ways it was fun, but it was super tough.”
Ko, who at 17 became the youngest No. 1 in the history of men’s or women’s professional golf, said there were shots where the wind caused her to aim 30-40 yards away from her target. At the eighth tee, she was aimed left, into the ocean, and watched her tee shot fade hard, barely holding the right side of the fairway. She said she hit a 5-wood into the 16th green. She hit an 8-iron there Thursday in her first round.
Ko sits three hundredths of a point ahead of No. 2 Inbee Park in the world rankings. Her historic ascent to the top of the Rolex rankings was celebrated before her first tee shot Thursday, when LPGA commissioner Mike Whan laid the Rolex No. 1 caddie bib over the head of Ko’s caddie, Jason Hamilton.
How did it feel carrying the No. 1 ranking for the first time?
“It didn’t really feel different,” Ko said. “It’s in the back of your mind, but with the conditions today, you were really just thinking about hitting good shots.”