“If I am holding the trophy, holding all of the trophies or no trophy…I simply need to have an excellent week. These alternatives do not come alongside fairly often. I need to attempt to seize it when it is there” – Lydia Ko, who leads the LPGA CME Group Tour Championship by a shot
Final Up to date: 18/11/22 12:02am
Lydia Ko started her quest for the most important prize in girls’s golf historical past by hitting a tree and making bogey on a par-five, however the remainder of Thursday within the LPGA CME Group Tour Championship couldn’t have gone higher.
New Zealander Ko responded with eight birdies, together with 4 in a row late within the spherical at Tiburon Golf Membership, that despatched her to a seven-under 65 and a one-shot lead within the LPGA Tour season finale.
A lot is at stake this week, even past the $2m prize to the winner.
Ko has a one-point lead within the race for LPGA Tour participant of the 12 months, whereas she appears set to win the Vare Trophy for the bottom scoring common. Each are price a degree in her bid to qualify for the LPGA Corridor of Fame.
“If I am holding the trophy, holding all of the trophies or no trophy…I simply need to have an excellent week,” Ko mentioned. “These alternatives do not come alongside fairly often. I need to attempt to seize it when it is there.”
It’s all proper in entrance of Ko, who has two wins in what she considers her most constant 12 months on the LPGA Tour. And proper behind are loads of challengers.
Danielle Kang and Pajaree Anannarukarn of Thailand are simply behind Ko after carding 66s, Gemma Dryburgh of Scotland and Hyo Joo Kim of South Korea fired 67s and Nelly Korda and Brooke Henderson have been within the group with 68s.
Korda missed 4 months earlier this 12 months due to surgical procedure for a blood clot in her left arm. She lastly is again to full power, and her victory final week up the coast at Pelican Golf Membership allowed her to return to No 1 within the girls’s world rating.
Henderson needed to withdraw final week with again ache, and the Canadian was not even positive she would be capable of play. However she made an adjustment in her swing, and it allowed her to get round Tiburon with a decent 68.
Henderson has an out of doors shot at participant of the 12 months, although she must win and have Ko and Minjee Lee end third or worse.
Lee, who has already set an LPGA Tour file with $3.7m in earnings this season, opened with a 71. Atthaya Thitikul of Thailand, the 19-year-old who reached No 1 on this planet till Korda took it again, had a 73.
Ko might solely giggle at her begin of the match by hitting a tree.
“It is virtually like I had two tee photographs,” she mentioned. “Though I bogeyed a par-five, I knew loads of holes have been going to play downwind. I attempted to not get too annoyed. The primary 4 holes into the wind are a beast. I knew if I might hold on and be affected person, there can be plenty of alternatives.
“I used to be in a position to seize plenty of them on the again 9.”
And that began with a par. She was fast on a chip from simply off the thirteenth inexperienced and watched it run some 12 toes by the opening. Ko made the par putt, and she or he was off and operating, making 4 straight birdies. It helped that two have been par-fives.
Korda gave up a straightforward birdie probability on the par-five seventeenth when she drove it so lengthy she had solely 159 yards left. However she got here up properly brief and didn’t get up-and-down. That was a product of what she known as getting fooled too usually by the tip.
Korda had an opportunity in any respect the awards final 12 months till Jin Younger Ko beat her, making it the third straight 12 months the South Korean star had received at Tiburon.
Making it 4 in a row shall be troublesome. Jin Younger Ko opened with a 72 as she continues to take care of an ailing left wrist.
Watch the CME Group Tour Championship all through the week reside on Sky Sports activities. Reside protection continues Friday from 7pm reside on Sky Sports activities Golf and – free of charge – on the Sky Sports activities Golf YouTube channel.