The 2015 Evian champion, Lydia Ko is no stranger to the top echelon of golf. The Kiwi stunned the golf world by winning golf tournaments in her mid-teens and becoming the youngest player of either gender to be ranked No.1 in professional golf at 17 years, nine months and nine days of age.

The New Zealand star spoke with us ahead of this week’s Amundi Evian Championship.

The Amundi Evian Championship has become a reference point in the women’s game. Can you please tell us a bit about what this tournament means to you?

Lydia Ko: The Amundi Evian Championship is where I have had my first major win. The coolest memory I had is the celebration where they fly down with the champion’s national flag. When the New Zealand flag came down it gave me goosebumps. It’s a historic place and it’s always a special event to be able to win.

How do you reflect on your victory in 2015? What learnings have you taken from this experience and how motivated are you to claim a second title at the tournament?

When I won, I draw back to my final round in 2015 as I was couple shots behind the lead. The course set up hasn’t changed and whether it’s hot and firm, or cold and rainy, the conditions are always a challenge. I try and remember all the good shots I hit coming down the stretch that year to help build the confidence.

As you approach this year’s tournament, how do you think your game has evolved since that victory in 2015?

I’ve had my share of ups and downs, but I hope to have some great momentum leading up. It’ll be a busy stretch of events for me, so I’m just hoping to get good momentum and feed off the positives from each week leading up.

The tournament is staged at one of the sport’s most challenging and visually stunning venues. Do you get to spend much time away from the golf course during the tournament week?

Normally, I don’t venture out during tournament week, but being a past champion I got to stay at the Royal hotel and waking up with the view is surreal. Last year, my husband and my sister were there with me to experience it, so it holds a special place. I’ve always dreamed about living near the water, so having the water and mountain view that week doesn’t get any better.

What are your overall thoughts about Rolex’s long-standing partnership of golf which extends nearly 60 years?

Rolex is one of the biggest supporters of the men’s and women’s game in golf, and it’s amazing to see its support extend to other sports too, such as tennis and equestrianism, as well as other industries such as the arts.

I am incredibly proud to be associated with Rolex as it’s a brand that truly believes in the talent of players which makes the world of difference to us. They truly believe and support us as Rolex Testimonees. Through its support of almost 60 years, Rolex has become so synonymous with the game. Rolex has played a key role in the development of the game and continues to elevate the game for future generations. This drive is super exciting and encouraging for all players involved in the game.

The involvement of committed and dedicated sponsors such as Rolex enables us players to stay motivated and inspired to grow the game. It is important to constantly remind ourselves of the intentions of the LPGA Tour’s founders of wanting to continuously improve.

Can you tell us about your relationship with Rolex? When and how it came about, and what it means to you?

I remember playing at the AIG Women’s Open in St Andrews in 2012, a year before I turned professional. I played in the pro-am and was paired up with Jean-Noël Bioul, who was representing Rolex there. We had a very interesting discussion which ended in him giving me his business card for me to contact him once I turned professional. That was a really great moment and once I turned professional in 2013, my relationship with Rolex flourished. I do not believe that there is any other watchmaker that provides the excellent support that Rolex does or a brand that has been so deeply involved in the women’s game. It is truly an honour to be part of the Rolex family and a brand that truly embraces and supports our sport – and especially the women’s game. It is really exciting to be a part of this.

Can you describe the feeling of what it is like to join the Rolex family and what it is like to be part of some of the game’s greats such as Annika Sörenstam, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods?

It is amazing to be associated with some of the game’s greats such as Annika Sörenstam, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods. It is such an honour. I still pinch myself when I attend the Amundi Evian Championship and go to the Rolex tent. Seeing pictures of myself alongside of legends like Jack Nicklaus, Annika Sörenstam, Tiger Woods and Roger Federer is incredible. I often find myself in disbelief when thinking about this. It is something that I am truly grateful for and inspires me to follow in their footsteps as they have achieved so much in their respective careers and are great role models. They have inspired younger generations and have served as motivation for so many up-and-coming players. They are incredible role models, as I try to be half the human beings that they are. It is a great motivation factor.