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Ko set for eighth Open start

Lydia Ko’s continued greatness is evident in one fact that will come up over the next few weeks. At 20 years of age, she is about to play her eighth ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open.

Ko, the New Zealand superstar, is one of the huge names in the field for the 2018 Open beginning at Kooyonga Golf Club in Adelaide from 15 February.

A winner of the championship in 2015 and runner-up at The Grange in 2016, Ko laughed at the notion of her eight visits to Australia to play the national championship.

“It just shows I’m getting older by the second!’’ she said. “But I’ve been very fortunate enough to play the Australian Open as an amateur, and I think those experiences really helped me while I’m proud too. It’s been a place where I feel like there’ve been a lot of great memories and cool moments in my career.’’

Ko finished tied-12th in the 2011 Women’s Australian Open at Commonwealth Golf Club in Melbourne as a 13-year-old amateur who had taken the golf world by sensation. She has not missed the tournament since.

“It’s one of the early few starts, the tournaments in the LPGA season,’’ she said. “It’s that time of the year you kind of want to set a good mode, I guess momentum towards the season. I feel like the Australian people have taken me in as their own. I’ve felt huge support. It’s a tournament I really want to play well. Having the main sponsor ISPS Handa and me being their ambassador is an extra bonus so ‘hey I want to play well at this event’.’’

Ko, currently ranked 10th in the world, is part of the stellar field for the Open at Kooyonga that includes four of the top 10 players in the world and eight of the top 20. Australia’s top-ranked players such as Minjee Lee, Su Oh, Sarah Jane Smith, Katherine Kirk and Karrie Webb will be challenged by world No. 2 Ariya Jutanugarn and her sister Moriya, South Korea’s So Yeon Ryu and the defending champion, South Korea’s Hana Jang, plus veterans like Cristie Kerr of the United States.

The Open is part of the LPGA Tour and co-sanctioned by Australian Ladies Professional Golf.

Television coverage is being provided by the ABC and the tournament will broadcast around the world.


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