Taking Stock Of Lydia Ko's 2016 So Far (Part Three)

Caddy? You mean like, the Cadillac right?

Caddy? You mean like, the Cadillac right?

Lydia Ko's 2016 hasn't quite hit the final chapter as we'd hoped for after the kiwi golfing phenom enjoyed a stellar start to the 2016 LPGA Tour. There was a silver medal at the Rio Olympics and that's a great achievement regardless of how you view Ko's greatness or golf at the Olympics, however on the Tour, Ko has endured a drop in form.

Part Two had me highlighting a mid-season slump as Ko went through a patch in which she finised 23T (tied-23), 6T, 18T and 16T before she corrected the ship and didn't slip outside the top-five through the next four tournaments. That's more of what we had come to expect from Ko as she has - or had - a nice habit of ensuring that her bad performances weren't all that bad, thus keeping her near the top of the leaderboard and keeping a gap between her and the chasing pack on the various rankings.

That came to a screeching halt at the Women's British Open, just before the Olympics when Ko finished 40T. Ko shot three rounds 70 or over and this sparked - apart from the Olympics - what has now become a horrible slump for Ko in which she hasn't crept inside the top-five in the past six tournaments. 

After leaving Rio, Ko played in the Canadian Pacific Women's Open where she finished 7T and she then finished 5T at the Manulife LPGA Classic. Nothing too far out of the ordinary here, we'd just expect Ko to fire herself back into the upper echelon of the next few tournaments and get back to normal. Defending her Evian Championship title though proved difficult as Ko finished 43T, she then finished 20T at the Taiwan Championship and then recorded her worst result this year with a 51T at the HanaBank Championship. 

You read correctly, Ko's last three results are 43T, 20T and 51T. Prior to these three tournaments, Ko's worst result on Tour this year was 23T at the Lotte Championship back in April. In her past three tournaments, Ko has shot just five of her 12 rounds under par and just three rounds under 70.

Ko didn't play last weekend at the Blue Bay LPGA event in China, which - along with her poor results recently - has allowed Thailand's Ariya Jutanugarn to creep past Ko in the Race To CME Globe standings as well as Official Prizemoney standings. Jutanugarn finished 3rd in China, which took her Prizemoney total to $2,439,878 while Ko was left chillin' on $2,424,950 with the good news being that Jutanugarn and Ko are the only golfers on Tour with over $2million in Prizemoney.

They are also the only two golfers with over 4,000 Race To CME Globe points as Jutanugarn's on 4,416 and Ko's on 4,300. Ko is still leading the Rolex Rankings though, where she has been for 53 weeks straight and Ko still holds a slight advantage with her scoring average, averaging 69.578 while In Gee Chun averages 69.615.

Ko's scoring average has understandably increased through her recent woes, going from 69.078 from Part Two up to 69.578. 

Ko still leads 'Rounds Under 60' which shows how dominant she was earlier in the season, however she has slipped from being 1st in 'Rounds Under Par' to being 2nd with 63. Ko's struggles are also evident in slipping from being 6th in 'Greens in Regulation' to being 25th, which means that Ko is getting on to the green in at least two shots fewer than par, 71.02 percent of the time compared to 74.18 percent from Part Two.

All this has come with Ko still being one of the least active players on Tour, playing just 21 events so far which has her ranked 72nd but thanks to her quality, she is 32nd in total rounds played. Another sign of Ko's quality is that she is still well-ranked in Birdies, sitting in 8th despite not playing as much as a lot of ladies on Tour.

The way 2016 has now panned out adds a bit of a twist to Lydia Ko's narrative this year. Yes, she has slipped up big time in recent events but this is in comparison to how she was playing earlier in the year and to be honest, any tournament in which she finishes outside the top-10 will look bad in comparison. That Ko still ranks highly in most major categories is a sign of how well she had been playing and with four tournaments still to play this year, it'll be very interesting to see how Ko responds to adversity and whether she can finish strongly to re-claim the top spot.