Things don't get much better than sparking 2019 up with a top-10 finish on the LPGA Tour for Lydia Ko and finishing 8th at the Tournament Of Champions in Florida is exactly what we want from Ko. For those new to the Lydia Ko Mixtape, we're all about the good vibes and enjoying this journey that Ko is on. That means letting go of the crazy expectations surrounding Ko to simply follow her progress as a young kiwi doing her thing among the world's best.
Starting 2019 with a top-10 finish is lovely, considering where we have come from with Ko. As any logical joker would assume, there was a dip in Ko's work on the Tour for 18-24 months as she not only came to terms with all the challenges that come with being a pro, but also the immensely competitive LPGA Tour which has changed a lot in the short time Ko's been in action.
Throughout her apparent struggles, Ko maintained a positive attitude and kept a smile on her face. Apart from the funk offered by a young kiwi performing at a high level, I continue to pump out Ko content because the way she has conducted herself through the tough times is an inspiration for young kiwis and a blueprint for maintain a positive outlook regardless of your circumstance.
With that in mind, I'll be writing about Ko on a more frequent basis; after every tournament as opposed to monthly recaps. After three rounds under par which had Ko tied for 1st, Ko then slipped up a wee bit in the final round to shoot +6 and this saw her drop down to 8th. This kinda sums up where we are at with Ko because it's basically her status-quo now, or somewhere in the middle of those three rounds under par (-5, -3, -5) and a round over par (+6) is Ko's status-quo.
The thing to focus on is that if that status-quo for 2019 is consistent top-10 finishes, then that's fairly amazing. Winning tournaments is the objective, to consistently roll out top-10 finishes on this LPGA Tour is a very legit marker of a great player though. For context, I like to hit up Ko's stats and it's a niggly little spot considering the small sample size, but I'll compare her stats from the Tournament of Champions to her overall stats from 2018...
2018: 69.63% (107th)
2019: 69.23% (18th)
Greens in Regulation
2018: 71.99% (24th)
2019: 70.83% (19th)
Putts per GIR
2018: 1.77 (16th)
2019: 1.78 (6th)
2018: 29.07 (12th)
2019: 30.75 (10th)
2018: 70.05 (7th)
2019: 69.25 (8th)
As you can see, Ko's struggles largely stemmed from her driving accuracy and there was a cheeky improvement in that statistic for the Tournament of Champions. The other stat I like to highlight is the scoring average and as long as it's under 70, Ko is going to be in the top-10 mixer.
The next LPGA Tour event is the Vic Open in Melbourne, Australia where the men and women will compete for equal purses (how hard is that?). I couldn't find a confirmed field for the women's event and the Vic Open doesn't start until February 7th, we might have to wait a few days to see if Ko is definitely playing in Melbourne. There is a tournament every weekend in February as the LPGA Tour hits Australia/Asia, so it would be great to see Ko prepare for the Australian Open (14th) with a run in Melbourne.
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Peace and love 27.