Sweet 16… Lydia Ko might not be your typical 16-year-old but despite having already won five professional tournaments, on the LET, LPGA, ALPG and KLPGA, the World No.4 has the same dream as most other teenagers: to get her driver’s licence.
While Ko has proven her talent on the golf course, she hasn’t been able to do the same behind the wheel of a car. In fact, Ko admitted her driving skills are so bad that her mother immediately put her foot down against the idea of driving a car.
Here’s what she said ahead of the ISPS HANDA Women’s Australia Open at The Victoria Golf Club:
Q. Lydia, thank you for coming in. What a difference a year makes.
LYDIA KO: Yeah, a lot of things have happened since Royal Canberra. I'm just super excited to be back.
Q. Have you played around Victoria very much?
LYDIA KO: I played here a couple of years ago for the Australian Amateur but the course is definitely playing much different, especially in length. So yeah, it's definitely different but I had a couple of rounds here, that's what practice rounds are for, you kind of get used to the course.
Q. What are your expectations for this week?
LYDIA KO: I played really well at the New Zealand Open and I played well in Bahamas, so hopefully that will build on my confidence. This course to me, I think you've got to drive it well to score well and obviously you've got to get the putts rolling as well, but just playing consistently and I think that will bring good results.
Q. Lydia, you've got a new coach, how has that transition been?
LYDIA KO: Yeah playing well definitely helps with that transition and I've been getting much more confidence. If I didn't play as good I don't think I would be as confident in the swing and in the clubs, but definitely playing well is where you need to be. The club feels great in my hand and the swing part, we’re not making huge changes, so it's' not like I've got a whole new swing, it's little things.
Q. Lydia, I just wanted to ask about the change from your coach to the new one?
LYDIA KO: Yeah, my new coach's name is Sean Hogan, he's at the Leadbetter Academy. So I see him when I go to Orlando. Obviously it was hard, it was a shame, splitting with Guy and there was a lot of media related stuff on it which I didn't even know that it would make headlines. It was totally kind of a shock that it was such big news. I've been liking what we've been doing with Sean. Dave Leadbetter, he's been seeing my swing as well, so it's been working good so far.
Q. Is it a shock how much attention everything that you do now is causing, you said that it was a surprise that when you changed your coach it was such big news?
LYDIA KO: Yeah, I think every little thing, especially the more famous you get, everything you say, everything you do, I think it's going to make media and make news, especially with the coach thing, I never even imagined that it would make headlines and go all over the world. It's sad that I had to split with Guy but I had to do what was best for me in my circumstance.
Q. Lydia, I know it's going over old ground, but exactly why did you split with your first coach, Guy?
LYDIA KO: All these questions of coach [LAUGHS]. I was going to play most of my time over in the States and, you know, Orlando is in the States and New Zealand is way too far to come back and see him in that week off. I don't like my coach being there at the tournament, so bringing him at a tournament wasn't what I like to do and kind of having him over for two or three days in the off week, it didn’t work out. In the off week you want some rest and you kind of want to chill out as well. So I thought it would be a good idea to find a coach based in the States.
Q. Lydia, obviously you've played in LPGA events before, but this is only your second event as a professional, how has that transition been and do you feel any added pressure?
LYDIA KO: I think there was much more pressure in the Bahamas as it was my first. You can never go back to the first; it's going to be your number one. Yeah, it is a bit different but I think just knowing that you've become and LPGA tour player and given one of those credentials, it was really cool. I didn't imagine myself to be in this position at this time.
Q. I saw that you have your mom out here with you, is she travelling with you all year long?
LYDIA KO: Yeah, she's pretty much my travel buddy. My aunt's out here this week as well. She kind of got me started to play golf, so it's really cool to have her here. Sometimes my sister might come out and my Dad might come out as well. But I definitely know my Mum's going to be there pretty much every tournament.
Q. Now that you're a pro, I wondered if have thought about prize money? Are you having driving lessons or do you have your licence, would you buy a car? Are there any things that you've got in mind?
LYDIA KO: I want to drive but my mom says - I don't think she'll let me. I've kind of driven a golf cart before and that didn't go well. Hopefully I'll get my license. I think I'll be a crazy driver for now. I want to learn in the States, driving in the States because that will be where I'll spend most of my time. It's on the other seat, on the other side than here and New Zealand. I think the roads there are a little wider, in the States as well, so it gives me a little more room for mistakes [LAUGHS].
Q. What age are you allowed to drive a golf cart or do you actually have to have a licence? How does that work?
LYDIA KO: Well my Dad kind of said you should try and then I tried but it's still going downhill, it kind of give me the creeps.
Q. It's much younger in the States I believe to get your driver's licence than it is here.
LYDIA KO: I think 16 in New Zealand, 16 in the States.
Q. Lydia, you're good mates with Israel Dagg, right?
LYDIA KO: Yeah, he came out to watch me play at the New Zealand Open and I've seen him a couple of times.
Q. You know what the All Blacks mean to everyone, how do you rationalise in your head that you are to New Zealand what the All Blacks are?
LYDIA KO: Definitely I think in New Zealand they would know the All Blacks much better than me. New Zealand, the highest sport is I think rugby, so it's quite hard to beat. I've even got All Blacks on my wedges; so it's got them on there. I think they're a great team. They won the World Cup, they didn't lose a game last year. They're pretty amazing and to know an All Black player is quite cool.
Q. Did you set yourself any particular targets for this particular season?
LYDIA KO: I think it will be a different target every week, but just playing consistently and consistently well I think is very important and also managing myself, not overdoing it. That's where I guess burn out gets players and golf you want to play for the long run and to not overdo it I think is very important.
Q. Now that you've been out on the course and probably seen the other players practising, have you got anyone in your mind of the players to beat this week?
LYDIA KO: Everybody, you kind of never know until that last round. Everybody's out here to win, everybody's trying their best. But like they say, Suzann and Stacy, they're top three in the world, and yeah, they're going to be the players to beat but I'm not playing down of any other player here, everybody's got a chance to win.