In keeping with the style of my Lydia Ko coverage over the past two years, there's no need to get dramatic about Ko's win at LPGA Mediheal Championship. Part of me, most of me, nearly all of me saviours this moment as I've followed the lead from Ko and stayed positive about her 'struggles' over the past 18 months; this is the moment we have all been waiting for in following Lydia Ko.
Every time I think about Ko, I always take a splash on inspiration from how determined and positive Ko has been. It's not that I knew this moment would come and I was quite happy to keep plowing through the journey with Ko as she continued to work hard to figure out her game as a young woman, on an LPGA Tour that is only getting more competitive. Ko's victory at Lake Merced was the 10th tournament of the year and there have been 10 different winners, meaning that the days of Ko or another golfer dominating the tour are well and truly over.
You will see a lot about how this is Ko's first win in however many days and stuff like that, but as this is the April Mixtape, I want to offer some context around this result for Ko and keep things grounded. Like Ko, positivity is the focus and I am merely trying to provide reason why kiwis should not expect Ko to suddenly explode into winning multiple tournaments from this point on.
This context is important because Ko's win is an anomaly. It's not an anomaly for Ko to win at Lake Merced as this is her third career win there, but leading up to this tournament Ko had results of tied-19th and 31T in April. Going back further to the start of March and just one result in the top-10 (10T) in the five tournaments prior to her win and in February Ko had to finishes outside the top-10 (19T, 31T).
All up, Ko has played nine tournaments and had two top-10 finishes. That's what catches my eye and why I feel I have to offer this context because there are no trends of improvement here, there's not even a steady patch of performances with Ko stacking up top-10 finishes. I mean; in the nine events, Ko has had top-20 finishes in four of them.
So while the mainstream kiwi media will pump Ko up, hailing the return of Ko and all that dramatic stuff, I'm here to say chill. Ko caught fire and won a tournament, yet this is very much the out-lier in 2018 and what has me excited, full of positive vibe, is whether Ko can turn this win into consistent top-20, top-15 or top-10 results.
Please do not think that Ko will steamroll the LPGA Tour, because of this win. That's unfair to Ko and you're building up your expectations without context, irrationally.
If you need further context, peep Ko's major stats. Despite Ko struggling in 2017, she is performing worse in 2018 so far.
2017: 78.41% (25th)
2018: 69.96% (79th)
Greens In Regulation
2017: 72.10% (26th)
2018: 68.46% (62nd)
Putts Per GIR
2017: 1.73 (3rd)
2018: 1.76 (12th)
2017: 28.94 (8th)
2018: 28.88 (4th)
2017: 69.86 (8th)
2018: 70.65 (17th)
Other than slight improvement in her putting, there is little to suggest in Ko's stats that she is back to her best. Combine the stats with her results and there is little reason to hype yourselves up that Ko's win will flip the switch, especially not in the 2018 version of the LPGA Tour which is very different from when Ko burst on to the scene.
Of course, confidence is crucial in sport and that's why I'm eager to see how Ko follows up this win. Ko knew all along that the changes she made would work out as she never once showed doubt and has always been extremely positive in making those changes, now she has tangible evidence that winning LPGA Tour tournaments is still possible. However, I'm hoping that Ko can stack up consistently solid performances, instead of expecting Ko to go on a winning streak.
As always, take a slice of Ko inspiration. She has stayed on track despite appearing to have many reasons to lose the plot and not only has she persevered, Ko has done so with a smile. This win is testament to that and now it's all about how Ko backs that win up, because we'll know if Ko is genuinely back to being the world's best female golfer when she's stacking up top-10 finishes.
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Peace and love 27.