Lydia Ko stops worrying about winning, and starts winning again


LOS ANGELES – New Zealand’s Lydia Ko was walking on the beach at Santa Monica on Sunday when she said she was bitten by a seagull that dived in and stole the sandwich in her hand. All Ko could do was laugh. Her return to the top 10 in the world rankings for women after more than three years of absence has a lot to do with her peace with her ability to control just as much as she is in the sand.

Or on the clean field.

The previous day, Ko, a former world no. 1, ended a three-year title drought at the Lotte Championships in Hawaii and was fed up with a seven-stroke victory by her belief that the result was largely out of her hands.

For Ko, who at 17 was the youngest player, male or female, to achieve No. 1 and 14 LPGA wins before turning 20, expectations became a burden that she could no longer watch comfortably. Therefore, she recently decided to release them to the wind of fate and tell herself “the winner has already been chosen.”

The mantra freed her to play the best golf she is capable of, instead of devoting all her physical and mental energy to production success. The results made her feel like 2015 in 2021. In this week’s LA Open, the Ko is in seventh place in her last five competitive rounds 38 below track mark and this year he has 16 sub-scores in 20 competition rounds. She had one wooma and 39 birdies in her last 100 holes before Wednesday, when her hot hand got cold in a round where she shot a 78-of-78 from Wilshire Country Club. Ko was 14 strokes off the pace set by Jessica Korda, who was in her group.

“It’s taking some pressure off to think it’s going to happen,” Ko said Tuesday. “Ultimately, you do not control your outcome, even if you want to.”

Ko, who turns 24 on Saturday, never left, and yet her presence on the front page of the charts this year has the feel of a much-loved show returning after an endless break. After her Pro-Am Tuesday, Ko was stopped by every player or caddy she passed as the snake walked through a narrow tunnel and a hill from the ninth hole to the practice green.

Everyone congratulated and kind words to Ko, who has been one of the most popular players on the tour since she erupted like an explosion of puppy on the golf scene.

In 2012, as a 15-year-old amateur, Ko became the youngest winner of an LPGA event and competed at the top of a field at the Canadian Women’s Open, which included 48 of the top 50 of the year’s top money winners has. She won the event again before becoming a pro at 16 years old. The LPGA waived the 18-year minimum age restriction to grant her membership, and Ko continued her rocket ascent. She won her first event as a profession, achieving the honor of the year, and winning and winning and winning.

She was so consistent that she made her debut in her first 53 LPGA events. She was so in control of her game, she won two majors and an Olympic silver medal before her 20th birthday.

But then the unthinkable happened: Ko stopped winning. Not only did the victories dry up, but Ko struggled to get through to the weekend. In the twelve months before the coronavirus pandemic stopped the tour, Ko missed four cuts, including one for seven strokes during the Evian Championship, one of five women’s golf courses. Ko’s fight thought something that JoAnne Carner, a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame, said in 2012 after seeing what Ko’s performance her 1969 win at an LPGA event looked like.

“They pack a ‘professional’ to your name and suddenly you feel like you have to know everything,” Carner told The Times. “There’s a lot more pressure and you try so hard and you put so much pressure on yourself.”

Ko’s swing went south, but her smile never did, though at times it seemed equally mechanical. During her slump, Ko drove through a series of swing buses. One, David Leadbetter, who was fired at the end of 2016, was fully convinced that Ko’s biggest obstacle to success was her overconfidence in her parents. He told everyone who asked that she should take control of her career if she wanted to turn around her results.

Last year, at the start of the pandemic, Ko made an important call to Sean Foley, an instructor in Orlando, Florida, where she lives, with Tiger Woods, including his clients.

“I just felt like my swing was improving, but I could have done a little better,” said Ko, who began working with Foley during the months the tour was discontinued, but the courses in Orlando remain accessible.

Foley’s interest in his clients extends beyond the swing level, and his philosophy for all people beats Ko. More than any adjustment he made to her swing, Foley Ko helped synchronize her mind and her body.

He reminded her that she could only control her effort, not the outcome. In the second event after the tour resumed last summer, Ko had a five-stroke lead with six holes to play. She has a one-shot lead over a prolific Danielle Kang in the final hole, a par-5, and fooled to finish second. Just a bad day at the office, Foley told her. No big deal.

When she entered the final round in Hawaii with a one-time lead over Nelly Korda, who finished second on the Gainbridge LPGA in February, she received a final text from Foley before retiring. It reads: Confidence and conviction.

She wrote the words in her garden book, then went out and played like that and finished with a 65 to achieve her first victory in 1,084 days.

“I think it resolved the doubts I had in myself,” Ko said Tuesday, adding, “I felt pretty calm playing. This is where I feel it should be. Like just because I shoot a 68 or 78, it should not determine my mood and the way I am around the golf course. ‘

Ko regards the victory as much as an affirmation of her parents, and their approach, as of her and her game. “For them to get criticism, I think unfair, because they are just doing everything in their power to make me happier,” she said.

Foley’s work with Ko is focused on finding happiness, winning or losing. Despite all her preconceived notions – perhaps because of that – Ko skipped that lesson. She had to learn it the hard way.

Nation World News Desk
Nation World News Desk
Nation World News is the fastest emerging news website covering all the latest news, world’s top stories, science news entertainment sports cricket’s latest discoveries, new technology gadgets, politics news, and more.

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