Lydia Ko in confident mood ahead of US Open
Lydia Ko hopes spending time in the gallery at Pinehurst watching Martin Kaymer win the men's US Open will help her build a challenge for a US Open of her own.
The 17-year-old Kiwi tomorrow plays in her ninth major and third US Open, also at Pinehurst's No 2 course.
Ko, a highschool student, was studying Kaymer's form last week as the German former world No 1 gave a masterclass lesson around the tricky North Carolina layout and won by eight shots.
Ko believed her gallery gawking would be a benefit when she tees off tomorrow morning (NZ time).
''I was able to get to Pinehurst a couple of days early and watch,'' she told Fairfax Media.
''I noticed the pin placements and tried to pay attention to how they played the greens. It was fun to see how they played and helps me visualise the holes in advance of this week.''
Ko has also brought in someone with plenty of experience in majors and at Pinehurst to help.
The world No 3 will have Mike ''Fluff'' Cowan on her bag for the tournament.
In his 37-year tour career, Cowan has worked with, among others, Tiger Woods and Jim Furyk and has won a major with each.
He was also on the bag for Furyk at the weekend when the American finished in a tie for 12th.
''Fluff is a laid back, fun guy and I enjoy having him help me this week. I get a sense of comfort knowing that someone like him who has been around for years with top players... giving me good advice. Especially with Jim playing well last week, it helps to have a caddy who knows the course and how it played last week.''
A win for Ko would mean she takes over the world No 1 title from American Stacy Lewis.
Cowan can't believe the teenager is as high as she is.
''It's quite an accomplishment, without a doubt. I mean, God almighty, 17-years-old and you're considered to be the third best player in the world? I'm really looking forward to watching her play.''
Cowan said while the course would be set-up differently from last week's men's event, his experience would still be an advantage.
''The greens still have all the run-offs and roll, little funny places, and I think I'll be able to hopefully guide her away from having that happen a lot.''
Ko has yet to play as well in majors as she has in the week-to-week tour tournaments.
She has a best of second at last year's Evian Championship, but after that has a string of middle-of-the-pack finishes, including at her two previous US Opens where she was tied for 39th and 36th respectively.
She's does, however, come across more confident this week than she has leading up to majors in the past.
''Yeah, my game is in good shape. I've prepared a lot for this week and I am looking forward to having a great week,'' she said.
Ko has been paired with 2007 US Open winner Cristie Kerr and two-time major winner and world No 4 Suzann Pettersen for the first rounds. The trio begin their tournament at 5.47am tomorrow.
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