Lydia Ko, playing for the first time in her adoptive homeland as the world No. 1, shot 2-under 70 Friday at the New Zealand Women’s Open.
Ko trails first-round leader Anne-Lise Caudal of France by four shots at Clearwater Golf Club in Christchurch, N.Z.
According to reports, a record crowd of 5,812 spectators were on hand to watch Ko during the opening round. The 17-year-old, who was born in South Korea but grew up in New Zealand, won this event in 2013. She turned in even par over her opening nine holes in Round 1, but birdied both par-5s on the front nine – her inward half – to stay within reach of the leader.
This is a Ladies European Tour event. Ko won last week’s LPGA-sanctioned event, the Australian Open at Royal Melbourne.
“Last week you were aiming to pitch 10 meters short of the green and asking it to run up. This week you have to say to yourself, ‘let’s just hit it.’ Two different courses and two very different conditions. It was tough on me today to hit the ball by the hole and be comfortable,” Ko told reporters.
“They (the greens) are very much slower here. Last week they were running 11 and a half to 12 (on the stimpmeter) and here they are 10 to 10 and a half. You watch your opponent come up short, then you hit it well past. It was difficult to judge. It is totally different so now I have to get back into the N.Z. Open mode.”