There’s no doubt that Lydia Ko is an extraordinarily talented young athlete who’s going to break records, take center stage on the LPGA Tour, and set the pace for the Tour. There’s no doubt whatsoever that Ko’s going to roll right over Stacy Lewis and Inbee Park and Suzann Pettersen and take over the top of the world rankings. Lewis, after playing a round at the Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic with Ko last January, was asked for her assessment of the Tour’s star rookie. She observed rather sanguinely that Lydia Ko’s “going to be beating us all.” But when? That’s the critical question.
Ko’s going into the Sunday round at the Wegman’s LPGA Championship with a share of the 5th slot on the leaderboard. That’s a stunning achievement for a 17-year old Tour rookie. She’s stayed in the short grass, used her flat stick economically, and carded 3 sub-par rounds on a track that’s demanding and challenging for the best athletes on the LPGA Tour.
But Ko’s not quite ready to claim the Major prize. To be sure, she’s close. She was close 11 months ago when playing as a 16-year old amateur she challenged Pettersen at the 2013 Evian Championship.
But what happened at the Kraft Nabisco Championship this year? She slogged her way to a T29th finish, then went on to edge out Stacy Lewis and close the deal at the Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic two weeks later.
What happened at the US Women’s Open? She got a little better, played to a T15th finish, sandwiched between a T4th finish at the Manulife Financial LPGA Classic and a tied runner-up finish at the WalMart NW Arkansas Championship.
What happened at the Ricoh Women’s British Open? She teed off fresh from that WalMart NW Arkansas finish and we expected her to be flying high on self-confidence and primed for that record-breaking victory. But she finished T29, then went on the following week to notch her 2nd 2014 win at the Marathon Classic.
Ko’s facing a mental hurdle right now. It’s not her technical game that’s holding her back from winning her first Major. Just as soon as she threads her way through the mental barriers, that win will come, if not today then perhaps at Evian-les-Bains next month.