Ko in contention at Coates despite penalty


OCALA, Fla. – Lydia Ko got herself in the early hunt at the Coates Golf Championship Wednesday despite a frustrating penalty.

Ko opened the 2015 season solidly with a round of 4-under-par 68 that could have been even better if not for a one-shot penalty at the 16th green, her seventh hole of the day.

After addressing her putt there, Ko noticed her ball had moved. She alerted fellow competitors Stacy Lewis and Karrie Webb, replaced her ball and assessed herself a one-shot penalty.

“That was tough,” said Ko, 17, the Rolex world No. 2. “I knew it moved, and I tried to keep calm, but it’s not one of my favorite rules. It’s hard to get a penalty on the first day of the 2015 season, but I got over it.”

Ko is tied for sixth, two shots behind the leaders, Stacy Lewis, Jessica Korda and Azahara Munoz.

“I played pretty solid,” Ko said. “I think my putting was good. I holed a couple long putts. I started well with a birdie right off of the bat.”

Ko holed a 30-foot birdie at her first hole of the day.

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Playing her first competitive round with contact lenses, Ko said they weren’t an issue.

“I didn’t have any problems,” Ko said. “I think it was good I actually did play a couple rounds with them on. I was kind of getting worried when it got darker toward the end of the day, but it was all right.”

The horn blew suspending play due to darkness with Ko on her final hole, but her group had the option of playing out. She closed with a par.

Ko played with her left wrist and thumb bandaged for support. She said the left thumb has been bothering her, but she said it isn’t serious. The LPGA training staff is treating it.

“It’s been feeling much better,” Ko said. “I didn’t have any pain today.”