Lydia Ko may still be winless in 2017 but the 20-year-old Kiwi sensation is maintaining a positive outlook on the shape her game is in as she eyes what would be a “special” victory in Scotland.
The world No 1 will be returning to take part in the Aberdeen Asset Management Ladies Scottish Open at Dundonald Links from 27-30 July, two years after she tied for fourth at the same event .
The tournament, which will be played at the same venue as the men’s Scottish Open for the first time for an increased prize fund of $1.5 million and co-sanctioned by both the LPGA and LET, takes place a week before the Ricoh British Women’s Open at Kingsbarns and Ko said she is looking forward to the challenge.
“I think it would be extremely special to win in Scotland, especially with all of the history of the game and the legends to have won there,” said Ko. “To have my name alongside them would be a huge honour.
“It is definitely a goal for me to win the Ricoh Women’s British Open once in my career as it’s definitely one of the most fun and challenging tournaments we play all year. You have to play smart and play creatively all week.
“It was actually my first time playing in a pro-am format when I played in 2015 and it was a lot of fun. I felt like Dundonald [venue for the 2015 Ladies Scottish Open] wasn’t a typical links but rather a mix between an American style and British links which I think suits my game.”
Ko held on to her world No 1 ranking, as rivals Ariya Jutanugarn and Yeon Ryu failed to take advantage of the Kiwi’s absence at the LPGA Volvik Championship in Michigan at the weekend.
There have been no titles and another caddie split this year, but Ko insists she is in a good place heading into a busy summer period. “I feel like my game is going in the right direction, a few top tens to build up my confidence,” she said. “I was hitting the ball great early in the season but struggling a little bit with my putting but I think I’m a little better there now.
“I’m going to continue to work hard to improve but being able to put myself in contention as many times builds the confidence up.
“If I can keep giving myself opportunities, it’ll come. We’ve got a huge stretch coming up with three majors in 12 weeks, so it’s an exciting time.”
Gary Matthews said Ko “needs to wake up on caddie-player relationships” when he was fired earlier in the year but the two-time major winner said that new bag man Pete Godfrey has already had a pleasing impact. “He’s very positive, no matter if I am over or under par he’s always after another birdie,” said Ko.
“Even when I miss a green he says things like chip it in.
“I think it’s really helpful having someone like him around, it’s good to hear and be with someone more positive than I am.
“I really enjoy working with Pete so far and it’s been a lot of fun.
“I’ve only done a few tournaments with him so far so the more time I can spend with him will make us better.
“I think you always feel like you can be more positive. It is hard when it isn’t going the way you want it to be but I’m having fun and have a great team around me that makes me have a lot of fun,so it’s great to surround yourself with people that have the same mind-set as you.”
Ko, whose plan is to retire at 30 (“My goal doesn’t change. That’s ten years from now. I might study, have a family, I just don’t know”) revealed that music provides her with solace during the stresses of competition and added: “I warm up to music which I think is a great way to relax and fell like I’m having fun.
“I love listening to music, so, when I get in to tricky situation, I whistle or sing in my head which helps me think about the positives.
“I am completely into Ed Sheeran’s new album. I love his music and have been listening to that a lot.
“Even my alarm is set to one of his songs. I’m hoping one day I’ll be able to go to one of his concerts.”