25 Jan 2016
Good news for Adelaide golf fans might be bad news for Lydia Ko’s ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open opponents.
Ko, still just 18, has come back fresher and sharper for the 2015 LPGA Tour season, taking in next month’s national championship at The Grange Golf Club in South Australia.
The world No.1, who won the Patricia Bridges Bowl at Royal Melbourne last year, became the youngest golfer, male or female, to top the world rankings in 2015.
But the New Zealander has come back fresher and sharper for her 2016 campaign, even tackling some softball drills to sharpen her game.
After a year in which Ko also won the LPGA Tour’s season-long Race to the CME Globe and her first major championship at the Evian, she took an entire month away from the clubs to refresh.
Coach David Leadbetter said his star pupil “was a little perturbed wondering how (the break was ) going to be”, but said she needn’t have worried.
“It’s really important for players to recharge their batteries - actually getting away from the game is not the worst thing in the world,” Leadbetter said.
And while Ko said she was a tiny bit “rusty” when she first returned, she’s ready and raring to go after remarkably recording 17 top-10 finishes, including five wins, on the LPGA Tour in 2015.
“It’s good to be back,” the effervescent Ko said.
“The first couple of days I worked on short game, putting (and) those pitch shots – you don’t want to go from nothing to hitting drivers all day.
“And it was much better than last year, maybe because I worked out a little bit more and connected the muscles I normally would anyway.”
Ko said Leadbetter and fellow instructor Sean Hogan had been working on intermittent drills with a softball bat to improve her hand-eye co-ordination and feel like she had “a little bit more load” on the downswing.
“I’ve Improved my hand-eye co-ordination from really bad to bad,” she joked.
Ko will spearhead the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open field in Adelaide from February 18-21.
The LPGA Tour season starts this week in the Bahamas.