Lydia Ko politely told media this week that she has to ignore reading about all that is riding on Sunday’s outcome of the LPGA KEB Hana Bank Championship, because there’s so much.
“If I thought about the rankings, the awards, it’s just way too much,” Ko said Friday. “It’s hard enough to try to hit the ball straight out there.”
Ko broke through to win her first major last month at Evian with a final-round masterpiece, a 63 that might have been the greatest round of golf ever played in a women’s major championship, given all that was riding on the round and given how much better she was than everyone else that day. Ko won’t take home a major championship trophy with another strong final round in South Korea, but she will take home a major haul of momentum in the competition for the year’s biggest awards.
Ko could leave Incheon with the Rolex world No. 1 ranking in hand again. She could leave with the lead in the Rolex Player of the Year points race, the Vare Trophy race for low scoring average, CME Race to the Globe points and with the lead in season-long money winnings.
It’s no wonder Ko doesn’t want to focus on much more than the shot in front of her.
Here’s something she is thinking about, though. Born in South Korea, Ko moved to New Zealand when she was 6. While she relishes being Kiwi, she is also proud of her South Korean heritage. She will have family and friends following her in Incheon. She would love to win for them and claim her first title in South Korea.
“There's still a long day ahead of me, but if I am holding the trophy at the end of the week, it will be very special, to win at your birthplace,” Ko said. “It’s hard to do. To be able to win in front of the Korean fans and my family and relatives who have flown over from Jeju Island, I think it will be a very special moment.”