Rolex world No. 1 Lydia Ko is the overwhelming favorite to win the ISPS Handa New Zealand Women’s Open this week in her celebrated return to her Kiwi homeland.
Oddsmakers list Ko as an 8/13 favorite to win her national open for the third time.
Laura Davies told the New Zealand Herald it’s the shortest odds she has ever seen for a golf event but that Ko makes it a great bet anyway.
“I wish I had 13 grand,” Davies cracked. “It’s a shame in some ways as it makes it look like the rest of us can’t play.”
The New Zealand Women’s Open is the Ladies European Tour’s 2016 season opener. It begins Friday at Clearwater Golf Club in Christchurch. Ko is the only player among the top 50 in the Rolex world rankings in the field. In fact, Denmark’s Nicole Broch Larsen and France’s Gwladys Nocera are the only other players among the top 100 competing. They’re No. 73 and No. 79, respectively.
Davies praised Ko for returning to her roots and including the New Zealand Women’s Open in what is a particularly busy international schedule this year with the Olympics in the mix. The New Zealand Women’s Open doesn’t offer a large purse ($227,000) or a lot of Rolex world ranking points, and Davies said it would be understandable if Ko skipped the event to fit bigger tournaments in her schedule.
“It’s a great credit to Lydia that she comes back to New Zealand,” Davies told the Herald. “Obviously, the money is not an issue for her, but it’s still lovely that she still wants to come back here and play ... Some of the other No. 1s haven't been so receptive about embracing the No. 1 status. I'm not saying they weren't nice people. I'm just saying they didn't want to go that extra mile. It seems Lydia is really happy to take everything on board and go with it, which is why I don't think I've heard anyone say a bad word about her, which is pretty extraordinary at a high level of sport.
That says it all really.”