[PHOTO: Ezra Shaw]
With Lydia Ko’s three-win LPGA player-of-the-year campaign in 2022, the New Zealander appeared to have emerged from a six-year stretch of inconsistency and rediscovered the form that made her a No.1 player in the Rolex Women’s World Ranking and a 19-time LPGA Tour champion. Yet instead of carrying that momentum into a successful 2023 campaign—and possibly earning the remaining two points she needs to qualify for the LPGA Hall of Fame—Ko has struggled with her game this year. So much so that the 26-year-old finds herself in the precarious position of possibly not being in the field to defend two of her titles, the BMW Ladies Championship in October and the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship in November.
Ko, who is playing at this week’s Walmart NW Arkansas Championship, is 93rd on the LPGA Tour CME points list. While eligible to play in next week’s Ascendent LPGA event in Texas, she is not currently signed up for the tournament. And because of her position on the points list, Ko has qualified for just one of the LPGA’s four limited-field Asia swing events that make up the October portion of the LPGA calendar.
Meanwhile, with only the top 60 players qualifying for LPGA’s season-finale at Tiburon Golf Club in Naples, Florida, Ko has work to do to be able to return to that event, where she claimed the $US2 million first prize with a two-shot win over Leona Maguire a year ago.
After getting married last December, Ko started 2023 in solid form as the No.1 player in the Rolex Ranking, winning the Ladies European Tour’s Saudi Ladies International in February in her first event of the year. She followed that up with a T-6 at the Honda LPGA Thailand at the end of the same month. That performance, however, has turned out to be her only top-30 finish this year on the LPGA Tour in 15 starts, including four missed cuts.
“Going into the year, obviously every year is a new start, and even if you do have a good year you don’t really know what it’s going to be like, because that two months, a lot of things can happen between a week and the two months,” Ko said in an interview on Golf Channel at the Kroger Queen City Championship three weeks ago. “For sure a lot of things can change. I think I went into the year with a lot of self-pressure. You do want to continue to be on a good momentum and play well when you are playing well because I’ve gone through my own ups and downs. And when things aren’t going well, it’s not very easy to come back out of that.”
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This article was originally published on golfdigest.com