|Lydia Ko at Clearwater GC. Credit: Simon Watts
She is probably just being humble but Lydia Ko doesn’t believe her achievements compare to what another teenager from Auckland’s North Shore has achieved.
Singer-songwriter Lorde arrived home from the States yesterday fresh from winning two Grammy Awards and Ko, who touched down shortly before from the Bahamas, was in awe of the music sensation when she saw her at Auckland Airport.
“She is so famous and she is a superstar,” said Ko in front of a packed press conference.
“At the Grammy’s she got a couple of awards. I think I am incomparable compared to what she has done. I have never met her and I wanted to go and ask for her autograph but she was surrounded by people and had just been on a long flight home as well.”
The World No.4, who is one of the biggest names in world golf, was the headline act at the ISPS Handa NZ Women’s Open hosted by Christchurch today.
She is happy to be home and is looking forward to beginning her title defence at the Clearwater Golf Club alongside Charley Hull (ENG) and Stacey Keating (AUS) tomorrow morning.
The 16-year-old, who won the title last year to become the youngest winner in Ladies European Tour history, is feeling confident about her game after beginning her rookie season in the Bahamas with a top-10 finish.
Ko knows that there is more pressure to perform this week but that is something she is used to.
“I am playing well and I am pretty confident but the wind can get pretty nasty out there,” said the Gulf Harbour member.
“I can’t control what someone else does. There are a lot of great players out here this week so I can’t just expect to turn up and win. I will play my own game and do my best. If I have a couple of good rounds I should be up there and in contention but I can’t expect to win every week, even though that would be nice, it is not realistic."
Ko said it was humbling to arrive back in Christchurch to see her face on all the marketing and billboards for the tournament. She is looking forward to playing in front of the large galleries that are expected over the next three days.
“Last year it was ‘Ready Set Ko’ and this year it is ‘Here We Ko Again’ so it is pretty cool. Maybe it is a good last name to have. It’s really great to have that support and to play at home.
“We had a lot of people follow us last year and it was really cool to see the people come out and support us.”
Ko has been well supported by New Zealand golf fans as she claimed four professional titles as an amateur and her first pro win at the Swinging Skirts in December.
She was pleased to let her clubs do the talking last week.
“My mind was kind of busy on all the changes – a lot of people said a lot about the changes and everything – but I just tried to close it all out and focus on my game. I was really happy with how I played.”
In a time of change Ko was also quick to pay credit to her former coach Guy Wilson who moulded her swing in the formative years of her career.
“I’ve been with Guy for a couple of years and I thank him for the work he has done and the time he has put in. unfortunately we have to split for some reasons. I thank him so much and I also thank the team at I Golf. Guy and the team at I Golf [Institute of Golf] are a very good coaching team. I wish them the very best.”
She also paid tribute to her Mum, Tina, who runs the Lydia Ko show.
“She does pretty much everything for me. Like from cooking to driving… everything. Luckily I am the one that hits the ball. She is like an assistant coach and it is good to have another set of eyes.
“I am a bit clumsy. Sometimes before interviews I have one collar up and one collar down so she likes to fix that for me. She is a bit of a perfectionist.”
Ko’s ability and work ethic with her game would suggest that being a perfectionist runs in the family.
She hasn’t set too many lofty goals for her first season on the LPGA Tour as she adjusts to life as a professional.
“People say you could be World No.1 at the end of this year but I am so many points behind the big three and there are so many great players just behind me. I don’t really have a goal set on when I do want to become World No.1 but the sooner the better right?”
ISPS Handa NZ Women’s Open hosted by Christchurch Fact Box
When: Friday January 31 – February 2
Where: Clearwater Golf Club, Christchurch
Tours: ALPG and Ladies European Tour (LET)
Purse: €200,000 or NZ$334,000
Defending Champion: Lydia Ko
For more information visit: www.nzwomensopen.co.nz