Apr 2, 2015; Rancho Mirage, CA, USA; Lydia Ko reacts to her tee shot on the second hole during the first round of the ANA Inspiration at Mission Hills CC – Dinah Shore Tournament Course. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
Lydia Ko typically doesn’t worry about the cut line, but this week hasn’t been typical for World Number One. She’s once again lived to fight another day – barely. Ko, who nearly missed the cut Friday at the Volunteers of America North Texas Shootout Presented by JTBC, making it on the number, also made the second cut of this double-cut event exactly on the number. Ko hasn’t missed a cut in any of her 51 starts and she’s seriously tested that record twice in one tournament.
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The problem is one every golfer in the world has confronted. Ko’s putter has gone stone cold. It’s a new experience for the barely 18-year old who stormed onto golf’s big stage last year and has taken control.
"“Really, I think of the last two days, I’m realizing that one shot – one little putt can make a huge difference,” Ko said. “I started off well. I haven’t shot under par on the back nine before, but did that. I missed a couple putts, birdie putts coming down the stretch, but luckily I’m playing four days, and after the first day, you know, I didn’t know if I was going to play through.”"
However, at even-par, nine shots back of the lead, Ko doesn’t have Sunday expectations of winning back-to-back events but she’s hoping to secure a bigger donation for the International Red Cross for Nepal earthquake relief with a higher finish.
The winner is going to hole some key putts, and I’m not doing that. . . -Lydia Ko
The biggest difference between last week’s win and this week Ko says is simply the flat stick. She needed 31 and 32 putts, respectively, in the first two rounds, and without that two-hole, 5-over-par stretch on Thursday, she’d be right there in reach of the lead.
Ultimately, Ko probably won’t be the winner on Sunday, but she won’t be surprised a bit if it’s Inbee Park, the No. 2 player in the world one spot back of Ko in the Rolex Rankings.
Every week it seems like either Ko, Park or Lewis are one at the top of the leaderboard, and Ko praised their consistency Saturday.
"“They say sometimes when they’re interviewed they didn’t have a good putting day, but somehow they’re still 3 or 4-under-par,” Ko said. “So just shows that even if you don’t have that top “A” game, you’re still able to shoot a couple under par, and I think that’s the great thing about those two top players, where they’re always up there. ”"
Ko herself recently had a streak of 29 consecutive rounds under par and her typical round since she turned pro last year has averaged just over 29 putts. She’s actually not that far off her average this week — averaging 30 putts per round on the Las Colinas track. But the golf course is receptive, the greens are giving up birdies, and Ko isn’t getting many, only seven in 54 holes of play.
To her credit, Ko’s not complaining or making excuses. She’s just grinding it out until her putter warms up again, as it inevitably will. Sunday will belong to somebody else this week.