Lydia Ko looks to Mickelson for short game tips

MATT RICHENS
Last updated 14:08 21/08/2014
Lydia Ko
Getty
ONE TO BEAT: Kiwi golfer Lydia Ko is being tipped by her rivals as the player to beat at this week's Canadian Open.

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As Lydia Ko prepares for the defence of her Canadian Open golf title, the talented teen cheekily asked for short-game tips from one of the world's best. 

Ko is the two-time defending champion at the event being played at a London Hunt and Country Club course where players' short games could make or break to their title aspirations. 

Large greens that fade away straight into tricky rough will make chipping and putting more important than normal while approach play and clever tee to green golf - Ko's strength - will also play a big part. 

The 17-year-old world No 3 and one of the title favourites in Ontario, speaking in a pre-tournament press conference, said she'd love a short-game coaching session with five time major winner Phil Mickelson, whose short game is widely regarded as the best in world golf. 

''I've always loved Phil Mickelson,'' Ko said.

''He's a pretty amazing short game person and I envy him of that. Hopefully I can get a lesson or a tip soon.''

She won't have time to cram with Mickelson before tomorrow morning's early tee-off time but the LPGA Tour's rookie of the year knows the her short game will need to be in top shape if she is to win the tournament for the third straight year. 

''It's going to be tough. I think the big things here are the greens are quite large so you kind of have to play in sections where if the pin is on the left side you kind of want to think that the green is only that left half.

''But it's going to be tough, especially when you miss a couple of shots because even around the greens it's not like there is fairway and then rough; it's just rough straight on.''

Ko said scrambling would be important and the London course was the type where you had to keep the ball in the right place and accuracy was rewarded.

She added that while it was exciting to be at an event she'd won the last two years, she was trying not to treat the Canadian Open any different in terms of preparation. 

Nine of the top 10 women in the world - and 18 of the top 20 - were in the field of 150 and Ko said she would treat this like any other week where her goal was just to play well and put herself in contention.

''Last year I really wanted to win [here], but it wasn't because I was trying to defend my title,'' she said.

''It was just, 'okay, I'd love to win here.

"Obviously it would be great to do a three-peat, but you just never know because the world's best are all here playing in this field.''

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Ko is set to undergo surgery some time this year on her wrist, but did not mention the injury in the press conference and is understood to be confident it won't affect her this week. 

Her previous Canadian Open form has even world No 1 Stacy Lewis predicting a Ko win.

''I played with her when she won two years ago,'' Lewis said.

''It's just unbelievable at 17 that she has a chance to three-peat.  I mean, most 17 year olds haven't even been on Tour yet.  It's really impressive.  She's a great kid.  It wouldn't surprise me if she did it again.''

- Sport

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