RIO DE JANEIRO – In two days Lydia Ko will set out in pursuit of a gold medal for New Zealand at the Olympic women’s golf competition, but on Sunday she was a fan.
Ko, the top-ranked player in the world, traded precious sleep for a chance to cheer on Ryan Fox and Danny Lee, who were playing for New Zealand in the men’s competition.
“I told them both, I don’t think I’ve ever woken up at 7 a.m. to see someone else play,” Ko said. “It was great. I really enjoyed it. They said they enjoyed the week.”
Lee led the New Zealand men, finishing with a 69 to tie for 27th place, and Fox tied for 39th, but regardless of the outcome Ko embraced her role as No. 1 fan.
“I had this celebration planned, I was going to say, ‘Give me a D, give me an A ...,’” Ko laughed. “But I ended up not doing it because I thought it might embarrass them.”
Ko is the only New Zealander in this week’s field and will likely feel the pressure to deliver a medal – the country has won eight medals in these Games but just two gold medals. Sunday’s medal ceremony in Rio for the men only solidified that goal.
“I kept asking my caddie, ‘I wonder what it would be like to stand on that podium?’” Ko said.