Lydia Ko, at 17 already the youngest golfer ever to reach No.1 in the world, will try to add a first major championship to her sparkling resume this week at the LPGA’s ANA Inspiration.
A victory would make the South Korean-born New Zealander the youngest major champion in LPGA history, surpassing American Morgan Pressel who was 18 when she lifted the trophy on the same Mission Hills Country Club Dinah Shore Tournament course in 2007.
Although Ko hasn’t finished in the top 25 in two prior appearances at Mission Hills, her remarkable recent consistency makes her the player to beat this week.
Ko brings a streak of 28 straight LPGA rounds under par into the tournament – one shy of matching the record set by Swedish great Annika Sorenstam in 2004.
“I wish I had that,” said American Lexi Thompson, who out-duelled Michelle Wie to lift the trophy here last year.
“There’s not a weakness in her game,” Thompson said of Ko, ahead of the tournament in California starting on Thursday (Friday AEDT).
“She’s very straight off the tee and has a great short game. It’s great to play with her because she has a great attitude on the golf course, and probably the best tempo I’ve ever seen on a golf swing or a putting stroke.”
A victory would also help Ko consolidate her position atop the world rankings, with former world No.1 Park In-Bee of South Korea threatening to unseat her with a win or even a runner-up finish — depending on where Ko finishes.