World No 4 Lydia Ko was heading for an early exit in the Aberdeen Asset Management Ladies Scottish Open after equalling the second worst score of her career at windswept Dundonald Links today.
The 20-year-old Kiwi described the conditions as the “windiest I’ve ever played in” as she struggled to a seven-over 79 at the Ayrshire venue, where her nine-over-par total looked like being four shots outside the projected cut mark.
It was Ko’s worst score since crashing to an 80 in the final round of the 2014 Ricoh Women’s British Open at Royal Birkdale and matched third-round efforts in the US Women’s Open in both 2012 and 2013.
“I think this is some of the windiest conditions I’ve played in and it blew way stronger than this when we teed off,” said Ko, who was out in one of the first groups for the second round along with world No 1 So Yeon Ryu and last year’s LET money-list winner, Edinburgh-based American Beth Allen.
“Especially because it is so wide open from like 10 to 13, there’s no trees covering it.
“Normally when I played the British Opens, or even here a couple years ago, there was rain and that kind of softens up everything and it just makes it a touch easier than what it could be playing.
“But I think today was probably one of the most difficult rounds I’ve played in my career, both physically and mentally.”
Teeing off at the 10th on a course playing around 1,000 yards shorter than the men’s equivalent a fortnight ago, Ko started with three straight bogeys and was out in 41 after dropping further shots at the 15th and 16th.
She began her homeward journey with a double-bogey 6 at the first, slipped to eight-under at the next before picking up her only birdie of the day at the par-4 eighth.
“I missed three one-yard putts in a row,” she said of her stumbling start. “I just couldn’t stroke the putt. It was like all over the show. It’s so difficult. You think putting would be easy, but when it’s this windy it’s not.”
Ko, who has gone more than a year since landing the last of 14 LPGA title triumphs, finished fourth in this event at the same venue before going on to tie for third in the Ricoh Women’s British Open at Turnberry.
She now has two extra days to prepare for that event at a new venue, Kingsbarns, next week, and insisted there are positives to take out of this rare missed cut.
“When you’re playing the Scottish or the British Open, it’s something that you have to take account of, and I think there’s a lot to learn from this week,” added Ko.
“I hit 13 fairways yesterday, just missed one, and shot two-over and I think I only missed like three or four today and shot seven-over.
“You don’t get many birdie opportunities and when I did, I’m not holing it. If I did miss a fairway today, they were just in that cut line and I’ve only been in one pot bunker the last two days.
“I was driving it really well and hopefully I can bring that into next week. It’s difficult but you just have to be patient and it’s hard to be patient for that long.”
That was reference to the fact that, even for the first group out, a round was taking close to five hours, having been up near six hours by the close of play on the opening day.