Ko relaxed, confident ahead of title defence

FRED WOODCOCK
Last updated 13:10 30/01/2014
DANIEL TOBIN/Fairfax NZ

On the course with Lydia Ko at the New Zealand Women's Open at Clearwater, Christchurch

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Kiwi golf star Lydia Ko has arrived in Christchurch in a relaxed and confident mood ahead of the defence of her New Zealand Women's Open title.

Ko fronted the media for 20 minutes at the Clearwater Golf Club today in her only media appearance ahead of the tournament.

The 16-year-old is coming off a tie for seventh in the LPGA Tour event in the Bahamas on Monday, and is overwheling favourite in her national open with the TAB opening the world No 4 at just $3 to win.

''I'm feeling pretty good. It was a pretty long flight overnight but I had a long sleep last night and I guess I've got to be ready to start the tournament tomorrow,'' Ko said, before addressing the question of her solid form last week, the first tournament with her new Callaway clubs and new coaching setup.

''My mind was kind of busy on everything and a lot of people said 'what about the changes and everything?'. I tried to close that all up and really think about my game and just concentrate on one shot at a time and I was just overall really happy.

''I played well last week so hopefully I would keep some kind of form coming in to this week and I'm pretty confident but the wind can get pretty nasty out here and it's about playing your own game and managing the course.''

Ko is expected to win this week but, as has always been the case, she seemed unperturbed by the pressure.

''Last year I think (the marketing slogan) was 'Ready, Set, Ko' and this year it's 'Here We Ko Again'. So it's quite cool to have my name and maybe it was a really good last name to have.

''It's really good to see the support and it's always great being able to play at home.''

She's thinking more about playing well rather than trying to win.

''I know that if I have a really good couple of rounds I'm in contention to win but I'm not there to go 'oh I'm going to win every tournament'.

''It would be great to win every tournament but that's not really realistic so (it's about) just putting myself in good form and just giving myself opportunities.''

She made a statement about the recent coaching split with long-time mentor Guy Wilson, and hooking up with American-based David Leadbetter's team, but otherwise would not take questions on the decision, which is understood to not have been her call.

Ko said Leadbetter's team ''didn't want to make huge changes. It's about fine-tuning things and big changes can lead to big stuff but it was just little bits at a time.''

She tees off at 8.05am tomorrow alognside Australian Stacey Keating and England's Charley Hull.

Stuff.co.nz will be providing live coverage of Lydia Ko's first round from 8.00am tomorrow morning.

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