Ko closes curtain on winless campaign

China Daily | Updated: 2017-11-23 07:07

NAPLES, Florida - Lydia Ko blasted out from in front of the steep edge of a bunker and raised her arms playfully when it dropped for par.

She ended the first round of last week's CME Group Tour Championship one shot out of the lead, and briefly looked like the Ko of old.

Her comments immediately after the round spoke to what kind of year it was.

"It would be good to finish the season with a top-10. I would be pretty happy with that," Ko said.

A top-10?

This from someone who reached No 1 in the world at age 17, who won her first LPGA Tour event as a 15-year-old amateur and won every year since then?

That streak ended in one of the most surprising developments of the year on the LPGA Tour.

Ko failed to win a single tournament.

She finished 13th on the money list, after earning more than $2 million each of the last three seasons.

She paid a steep price for making so many changes all at once. Ko left coach David Leadbetter for Gary Gilchrist, fired her caddie late last year (she once went through seven caddies as a rookie) and left Callaway for PXG.

"I think she has handled it extremely well," said Judy Rankin, a Hall of Famer and television analyst.

"But I can't imagine that she doesn't lay her head on the pillow at night and think: 'What happened? Where did I go? Was that not real?'

"Part of it is just growing up. Part of it is in golf, and maybe all the way through life. I'm not sure you come to that point where you've grown up just enough to know things can go wrong."

Ko had three runner-up finishes this year, losing the final-round lead to Lexi Thompson in Indianapolis. She failed to register a top-10 in the traditional majors until tying for third in Evian, the major reduced to 54 holes.

Still, she never thought it was that bad.

"Obviously, winning a championship is a huge deal, but sometimes it's overrated when you haven't won," Ko said on Tuesday.

"I think I'm still playing well, but I haven't won. I think everybody has little ups and downs. I think it was important to finish on a higher note, which I feel like that's what happened."

She finished in a tie for 16th at the CME Group Tour Championship.

Associated Press

(China Daily 11/23/2017 page23)

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