Daly, California, April 29: Lydia Ko paid tribute not only to her family and team but also to her fellow players after ending a close to two-year title drought with a playoff victory over Minjee Lee in the LPGA Mediheal Championship.
Finishing regulation play tied on 12-under-par with Lee at Lake Merced, Ko eagled the first extra hole after nailing a three-wood from 234 yards to three feet of the flag to claim her 15th LPGA title. The former World No 1 had not won since the Marathon Classic in July 2016.
“My whole team, you know PXG, my sponsors and family have been super-supportive. I knew that my game was there … I just needed to put the pieces together and I was able to do that this week,” said the New Zealander, who had won twice before at Lake Merced including her first LPGA title on American soil in the 2014 Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic.
Ko noted that it has been a frustrating wait for her at times, especially when she went into a tournament feeling she would play well but was not able to score. There were emotional scenes at the 18th green as she was greeted by her mother, sister, coach and tour friends.
“Sometime self-pressure is the biggest thing as you kind of put a lot of load on your shoulders. That’s what my mum actually said to me … just clear your mind and go out and play, and that’s what I think I was able to do this week.
“It was emotional because they’ve been through it with me. It’s not like you’re the only one out there; the whole team is part of it and they’ve put in as much hard work as I have. That’s why it’s so meaningful … golf may be an individual game but without the team around you, you just can’t do it.”
Ko noted that having close friends on on tour helped her get through what was, by her standards, a long lean period.
“There’s just such great friendships that I’ve made on this tour. They’ve definitely helped me stay positive and patient … and really been super-supportive.
“Danielle (Kang) is one of my ‘sisters’; we might not be from the same mother but she’s always there for me! In fact, she’s the shoulder I can cry on or share happy things with … and just to see some of the players out there to celebrate was great,” she said.
Ko noted that she planned to celebrate with alcohol since she turned 21 on April 24.
“It’s cool to have my family and friends here and we can ‘officially’ celebrate with alcohol, champagne … and just remember to take my ID!
“Jessica Korda gave me a bottle of vodka for my birthday and she said it’s really smooth! I don’t know if vodka is ever smooth but maybe we might open that …