Lydia Ko sees the world differently now.
It has nothing to do with her taking home the richest payday in the history of women’s golf ($1.5 million) in the LPGA’s season finale late last year. The 17-year-old wunderkind literally sees the world differently after trading in her big-rimmed glasses for contact lenses this offseason.
“I’ve been using them a couple weeks now,” Ko said Thursday after an appearance on the Callaway Golf stage at the PGA Merchandise Show. “I think it’s a good change. I’ve definitely gotten used to them.”
Ko said she got her eyes tested with other players while at the Meijer LPGA Classic in July.
“They told us when you wear glasses, they’re perfect when you’re looking straight out, but when you are looking left or right, to the side of the glasses, it’s not the same, the distance can look different,” Ko said. “Contacts are right on your eyeballs. They move around with your eyes. They told us wearing glasses wasn’t preferred, especially somewhere like the British Open, when it starts raining. The last thing I want is to have to clean my glasses when I’m playing.”
Ko was wearing her contacts at the PGA Merchandise Show, but she was also wearing her old large-rimmed glasses with clear window frames when she stepped to the stage with Harry Arnett, Callaway’s senior vice president of marketing and host of Callaway Talks. Arnett also wears large-rimmed glasses.
“We always say we are 'Team Big Glasses,’ so I wore them for Harry,” Ko said.
Ko, the Rolex world No. 2 and last year’s runaway LPGA Rookie of the Year, is feeling rested, refreshed and renewed as she prepares to tee it up in next week’s Coates Golf Championship, the LPGA season opener. She took a month off without touching her golf clubs this offseason, spending her break back at her New Zealand home and in South Korea.
“That’s probably the longest break I’ve ever taken,” Ko said. “I don’t think I’ve ever not played for a month since I started playing golf.”
With a tenacious work ethic, Ko has grooved one of the most reliable swings in the women’s game. Her devotion to her craft, however, has taken a toll on her left wrist, where cysts troubled her through the second half of last season. She had to have fluid buildup drained more than once last year. David Leadbetter, her coach, has been preaching the importance of rest to her, pointing out how strategic rest has helped rejuvenate and strengthen Michelle Wie.
“I felt a little rusty coming back, but it was a good rest, recharging my batteries,” Ko said. “I feel refreshed.”
While wrist surgery once seemed unavoidable this offseason, Ko has found a remedy. She reported relief in special non-surgical treatments in South Korea during a break in October, and she returned again this offseason for more treatments, which include a form of acupuncture.
“I haven’t been feeling pain the last couple weeks, since I’ve started practicing again,” Ko said. “The treatments really work for me.”
While in South Korea last month, Ko firmed up details surrounding her enrollment at Korea University. She is scheduled to begin studies in March while playing the LPGA. Ko visited the school during her break and met with school officials to set up a program that accommodates her travel requirements.
As for the coming LPGA season, Ko said her primary goal in 2015 is to be more consistent. Though she won’t turn 18 until April 24, she already has won five LPGA titles, three this past season. She believes winning will take care of itself if she gives herself more chances with better consistency week to week.