Putter helps Ko (72) overcome penalty


HARRISON, N.Y. – Rolex world No. 1 Lydia Ko closed with back-to-back birdies and overcame another frustrating penalty Thursday in jockeying for early position at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship.

Ko shot a 1-under-par 72 that would have been a shot better if not for a one-shot penalty at the 13th hole. She assessed herself the penalty after her ball moved on the green after she addressed it. It’s the second time that’s happened to Ko this year. She assessed herself a one-shot penalty for the same issue in the first round of the season-opening Coates Golf Championship and ended up losing the tournament by one shot.

“I obviously don't love that rule, but it's there for a reason,” Ko said.

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Ko was over a 15-foot putt for birdie at the 13th Thursday when she noticed her ball moved. All of a sudden, she found herself lining up that same putt for a par. She missed and made bogey.

While Ko wasn’t pleased with her overall ball striking, she said her putting saved her. She hasn’t been pleased with her putting of late but switched to a two-ball putter this week and liked the way it felt in the first round. She had a full day with five birdies and four bogeys. She hit 9 of 14 fairways and missed six greens.

“I was making some crucial putts,” Ko said. “If they didn't go in, I know my score would have been much worse than what I have right now. I think 1 under is a pretty good start to the week. The scores are not going to be crazy low. It's not really set up for that. So I think I'm in a good position.”