Lydia Ko looks to crown rise with major title

Lydia Ko, 17, is aiming to become the youngest female major winner in golf's history this week. Picture: AP

Lydia Ko, 17, is aiming to become the youngest female major winner in golf's history this week. Picture: AP

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DONALD Trump would love if it happened in the British Women’s Open at Turnberry later in the year. It would be a dream opening chapter in the Ayrshire resort’s tournament life under his stewardship.

Unfortunately for him, however, Lydia Ko has three bites at the cherry before then to become the youngest female major winner in golf’s history.

“I think the strong point is that she really doesn’t have a weakness”

Michelle Wie

Her first chance to secure a place in the sport’s folklore is this week’s ANA Inspiration Championship, formerly the Kraft Nabisco Championship but still being held at Mission Hills in California, where, as per tradition, the winner will leap fully clothed into Poppie’s Pond on Sunday.

Should Ko become the drookit one, it will crown an extraordinary spell that has seen the 17-year-old Kiwi shaping up as though she is about to dominate the women’s game in the same way as both Annika Sorenstam and Lorena Ochoa did at the peak of their careers.

Six titles on the LPGA Tour have already fallen to Korean-born Ko in her meteoric rise to world No 1. It’s majors she’s after now – and more records. One could be claimed in today’s opening round. She’s bidding for her 29th consecutive sub-par score, which would equal the mark set by Sorenstam.

“That’s pretty damn good,” admitted Michelle Wie, the US Women’s Open champion, of Ko’s run of form coming into the season’s opening major. “She’s just so consistent. I think the strong point is that she really doesn’t have a weakness, a standing weakness in her game.”

Ko was still in the amateur ranks when she tied for second place in the 2013 Evian Championship. Last year, her best performance in the majors was third in the Women’s PGA Championship.

“She kind of goes out there and she hits it pretty far, hits it pretty close to the hole, usually makes a putt,” added Wie. “It’s very consistent. So I wouldn’t be surprised if she keeps that streak going. Consistency is something I really want to achieve, and I definitely look up to her in that sense.”

It’s probably not over stating how good Ko is to say she’s more likely to win a major this season than her counterpart in the men’s game, Rory McIlroy. “Things don’t bother her,” said Ko’s coach, David Leadbetter.

With the likes of Wie, Inbee Park, Stacy Lewis and Lexi Thompson, the defending champion, around, she certainly won’t get things all her own way, either this week or in those four other big events to come. It’s only a matter of time, though, surely until Ko becomes a major champion. It will be a big surprise, in fact, if she arrives at Turnberry in July still trying to make that breakthrough.

Who knows, though? Donald may well have it scripted exactly how he’d want it. If not Ko for his first Turnberry triumph, then what about Catriona Matthew repeating her 2009 Ricoh Women’s British Open win? That would be nice, though the Scottish No 1 will be looking to make her presence felt in California, too, in her bid to make another Solheim Cup side.

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