LANCASTER, Pa. – Lydia Ko’s game gets analyzed intensely when she’s not at her best, but she says that recent rough patch where she missed her first cut in an LPGA event and lost the Rolex world No. 1 ranking wasn’t really about her swing or putting or some technical issue with her game.
When Ko analyzed it, she saw something else.
Ko saw herself going through a spell last month where she was playing more dutifully than joyfully going to the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, where she missed her first cut ever playing an LPGA event.
“I could feel it before KPMG, until really around that time,” Ko said. “I was kind of out there because I was a tour golfer and needed to be out there, etc.”
Ko, 18, quickly clarified the comment to say she did not mean she was feeling burned out. She said it was more a bout of homesickness and missing New Zealand.
“No, I wasn’t burnt out,” she said. “I really just missed home and wanted to go see my friends. Last year, in the offseason, I did go back, but I went back for three days. When you are away for pretty much the whole year, and you’re only back three days . . . I just started really missing my friends.
“I’m kind of a talkative person. I like to talk to my friends and have fun. I think I was kind of missing that. It kind of drifted me away from here [on tour]. I tried to get myself together. Hopefully, I don’t know, I might go back before the off season. Who knows? I think having fun is important. That’s what I always say, because that’s the most important thing.”
Ko closed with a 2-under-par 68 Sunday at the U.S. Women’s Open, securing a top-15 finish. She said she had some fun in a round that saw one of her shots bounce out of a creek and another ricochet off a tree into and back into the fairway. Ko said she’s determined to make sure she enjoys the game more. She’s taking that attitude to the Marathon Classic in Toledo, Ohio, this coming week.
“You’re always going to say `I know I could have done this better or that better,’” Ko said. “I had a lot of fun out here this week. The last two weeks I’ve been trying to smile a lot more, just enjoy it. That’s really helped me, even in bad situations. I’ve had a lot of fun.”