Ko shares lead at the ISPS Handa NZ Women’s Open hosted by Christchurch
- Saturday, 18 February 2012
Super-teen golfer Lydia Ko has battled her way into contention going into tomorrow’s final round of the ISPS Handa New Zealand Open hosted by Christchurch.
The 14 year old, one of the smallest in the field, braved the blustery winds best to shoot a three under par 69 and move into a six-way share of the lead at six under par at the Pegasus Golf and Sports Club.
Ko, who opened with a three under par 69, was four under for her round and the outright leader at seven under par before she made bogey at the penultimate hole and then made par on 18 to sign for a 69.
“The goal for today was five under but I don’t feel like I didn’t achieve what I wanted to because I played good and I putted good so I am happy,” said the North Shore golfer.
Almost 4,000 local golf fans came out to watch the tournament today with the World No.1 amateur once again attracting the lion’s share of the gallery. She didn’t disappoint as she opened with a birdie.
Ko went onto make a bogey on three and then made birdies on four, five, 11 and 13 before dropping the shot at the last. The biggest roar on the day came when she made a fine two on the par 3 11th.
“In my mind it was just a par hole so if you make birdie then you are a genius so when it went in I was like “Woah”,” said Ko in her humble way.
Players took advantage of the still morning conditions to move up the leaderboard headed by the trio of Colombia’s Mariajo Uribe, Australia’s Lindsey Wright and former Northlander Haeji Kang (Korea) to share the clubhouse lead on six-under par, as the winds picked up early in the afternoon with strong southerlies proving a challenge.
Three other players Ko, American Alison Walshe (70) and Spain’s Carlota Ciganda (69) handled those conditions superbly to make six players tied for the lead.
Earlier Uribe and Wright both shot rounds of four-under 68 today while Kang managed a second successive three-under 69.
Uribe, 21, is a former US Amateur champion who is currently playing on the LPGA Tour, at one stage had moved to a two shot lead before dropping shots at the final two holes when the winds grew in strength.
Wright is also on the world’s toughest women’s tour, and was ranked as high as No 12 in the world three years ago before taking a break and renewing her passion for the game.
The pair fought out a duel down the stretch in the LPGA event in Brazil last year with the Colombian prevailing with a late birdie.
“I was trying to think about the positive things about finishing with two bogeys. That happened in Brazil when I won. I was thinking the same people are in contention,” said Uribe. “Lindsay Wright is so nice and I am such a good friend of her so it would be cool to play together.
“It is going to be fun. This course is interesting with the wind. It makes it tough. Even if it is windy you are playing with the same people you are contending with at the same time.”
Wright had to play “the best shot of her life” to remain in contention after an eagle from the rough on the par-4 sixth hole.
“I hit it right of the bunker on six and it got stuck in the grass. I went ‘bugger’. I had 128 yards to the hole and had a little seven iron. It was the best shot I ever played.
And then it went in. That was a real bonus because I was thinking about if I could even make par.”
Kang is playing back in New Zealand for the first time in since spending three years in Northland as a young teenager. Kang’s family moved to New Zealand for her education and her golf, before moving to Australia to further develop her game. She turned professional three years ago, graduating from the Futures Tour to the LPGA after just one year.
“It is great to be back in New Zealand. It’s the first time in seven years. I really enjoyed my time here and I still love the place. It was good to meet with Caroline Bon who I played representative golf with for Northland. I still regard myself as a New Zealander and feel at home here.”
The attention tomorrow will be on young Ko as she tries to make more golf history.
The youngest winner in pro golf history is hoping that the inclement weather arrives tomorrow as she plays her best golf in the wind.
“At Royal Melbourne [last week] it was windy the last two days and they were my best two scores. I will just play my game. I will try and hit the fairways and hopefully a few more putts will drop. It should be fun.”
The two round cut for the ISPS Handa New Zealand Open hosted by Christchurch of the top 50 and ties is expected to be at three over par.