Lydia Ko confident ahead of Open Championship
Light practice has been Lydia Ko's approach for a potentially historic week at the women's Open Championship, starting tonight (NZ time).
With expectation again weighing on the 17-year-old New Zealander, who could become the youngest winner of a women's major championship, Ko says she's been conscious of keeping her preparation relatively light and treating the week like any other tournament.
At a media conference overnight, Ko said that before yesterday neither of her coaches, including world-renowned David Leadbetter, had checked her swing for a couple of weeks and she had not been hitting the tough course at Royal Birkdale, at Southport, north of Liverpool, too hard since arriving last week.
"I think I'm playing well," she said.
"I played well in Arkansas," she said referring to the Arkansas Championship a fortnight ago, where she fired a six-under 65 to finish runner-up.
"That was my last tournament. I'm coming in with confidence and hopefully I'll enjoy the week.
"I got in [to England] on Thursday night and I played Friday. That's the only day I played. I've played a couple practice rounds.
"He [Leadbetter] was checking my swing today. Neither one of my coaches had seen it in a couple weeks, so it's good to get David to check my swing and see if it was okay, and the response was okay. That's good.
"Hopefully I'm prepared for what's coming up.
"I'm trying to think of every tournament as just being another tournament, because last year when I thought about all the majors - oh, this is a major, I need to play well - you need to play well in majors.
" That's why I didn't play as good as I wanted to and that's kind of putting pressure on myself."
While there's not exactly years of form to go on, Ko has performed well on links courses in the past.
Links golf offers a different kind of test to the week-in, week-out target courses of the US, requiring players to use their imaginations, punch the ball low under the winds, and engineer a raft of different shots into, and around, the greens.
Ko admitted shot-making, patience and imagination would be at a premium this week.
"It's a true links [course], right by the water and lots of long grass and tight fairways, so it's going to be a test in all areas for bunker shots and long game also," she said.
"I've asked some questions about hitting a lot of shots and all the different types of shots we need to hit out here because high shots into the wind. They are not going to be working as well as they would be [in the US].
"I played last week where I probably got the worst weather - where it was raining and windy. I got to experience what it was like if it was raining a lot. It's been windy the last couple days.
"I've been getting these different types of weather and trying to learn more about the course, as it is my first time here. As the week goes on, hopefully I'll learn more about it.
"If you're not in the fairway, you're in the bunker or the deep rough. So it's going to be tough and I definitely need to hit a lot of fairways to give myself opportunities."
Cathryn Bristow, New Zealand's second-ranked female golfer, has also qualified for the tournament.