Lydia Ko Wins Rookie of the Year Title After Struggling In Oracle Nabisco Championship

Lydia Ko did not play particularly well this week.

The New Zealand amateur won’t point a finger at any particular shots, mistakes or opportunities — though she was certainly not pleased with any of them.

“Sometimes results are so overrated,” Ko said. “Sometimes results just don’t quite live up to expectations.”

Like she does in much of her golf, Ko let it slide.

She hit a lousy tee shot at the start of the fourth round of the Kraft Nabisco Championship Thursday, but somehow bogeyed the hole to keep her in contention at the first major of the year. She ended the round at 2 under, 10 shots behind the leader, American Sung Hyun Park.

Ko showed enough Thursday to think she’s got a long, hard climb ahead of her Sunday at Mission Hills in Rancho Mirage, where she’ll try to become the fifth amateur in LPGA Tour history to win a major.

“When you see a story written after a round where you did poorly and you didn’t play your best, that can get in your head. It doesn’t really matter if you finish third or first or second or whatever — if you don’t play your best, you just need to let that go,” Ko said. “And that’s what I’ve always done since I was young and I think that’s why my score was so good this week. I didn’t really put pressure on myself. I just focused on the little things and I didn’t put too much pressure on myself to really play my game.”

The 18-year-old Ko had a respectable LPGA Tour rookie season, even though she finished with just one top-10 finish. She has picked up where she left off this year, earning a win in her native New Zealand last month before almost doubling her winnings this year with a second-place finish in Singapore and a victory in Dubai last week.

“I started getting into the swing of things over the last two weeks where I started playing a little bit better,” Ko said. “And the more and more I can play and play solid golf, the better I’m going to feel. And more obviously I’ll play like this more often.”

But there are a lot of good players in the field and Ko knows her one-on-one opportunities are waning as the LPGA purses grow — she’ll need to contend on Sundays to take home a lot of prize money.

Even so, she was more than a little frustrated that her best efforts again didn’t come together Thursday.

“I definitely wanted to come out and shoot a low round in the fourth round and that would have been pretty cool,” Ko said. “But I guess it wasn’t to be.”

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