She might be playing mind games but Laura Davies believes that Lydia Ko deserves to be labeled as the overwhelming favourite for the ISPS Handa NZ Women’s Open hosted by Christchurch.
The 2012 NZ Open Champion, who is one of the legends of the game with four major titles to her name, said that the World No.4 will be hard to beat at the Clearwater Golf Club when the tournament tees off tomorrow.
“It will be a tough task winning it because Lydia is here,” said the 50-year-old.
“If you haven’t got your very best game then you are playing for second. In other words if you turn up and you are average then you are not going to beat her. I know if I play my very best golf then I can beat her, Gwladys [Nocera] the same, there are 15 – 20 golfers out here who on their day can beat Lydia over a week.”
Davies said that Ko’s consistency puts pressure on the rest of the field.
“She is not going to make too many mistakes because that is the sort of player that she is. A lot of us think that we can win it but we have got to be at our best.”
It is some wrap from a player who has won more than 80 professional titles worldwide and been a dominant force in the women’s game.
The TAB agrees with Davies having the World No.4 at the shortest odds ever for a champion in the event’s history at only $3 to win. They also have the Rest of the Field vs Lydia Ko bet at $1.33.
Davies said she has never seen a player like Ko before and that she deserves all the accolades she receives.
“Lydia is No.4 in the world, she has defended an LPGA Tour title in Canada and she is only 16. She has done so much at such a young age and everyone loves seeing a youngster play really well, week in week out.
“I am very impressed by her. I remember when I won this tournament and Lydia was the top amateur and she was 12. I said in my speech you should go to bed now, it was after six at the prize-giving. Little did I know, I mean I have seen a lot of young ‘uns come and go but obviously Lydia is a different type of player. She is very calm, she has never lost her temper; you hardly ever see her frown: she has obviously got some great backing from her family.”For all her praise don’t believe that Davies has already written off her chances.
The English pro, who is always a popular player with the galleries in Christchurch, has all the experience to cope with the strong winds and is feeling more at home at Clearwater.
“The first time we played here I didn’t really like it. It hadn’t matured but when we came back from Pegasus I thought ‘Should I even go?’ and I loved it last year. I just think it has turned into a world class course.”
Davies has a clear goal in mind for the three-round tournament if she is going to be the first player to win the NZ Women’s Open twice.
“I think I need to shoot 15 under if you could shoot three 67s then you will be competitive. Obviously there are a lot of girls who can shoot that number. Lydia is obviously one of them and I am hoping I am one of them too. “