Lydia Ko feels under par but still delivers goods

16:36, Feb 01 2014
Lydia Ko: Day One at Clearwater
IN ACTION: Lydia Ko on Day One at the NZ Women's Open.
Lydia Ko: Day One at Clearwater
CLOSER LOOK: Lydia Ko tests her swing.
Lydia Ko: Day One at Clearwater
CROWD APPEAL: Dozens of golf fans are at Clearwater for the NZ Women's Open.
Hyeji Lee of Korea
COMPETITOR: Hyeji Lee of Korea
Hyeji Lee of Korea
SCENIC SPOT: Hyeji Lee, of Korea, at Clearwater
Scorers at the Clearwater leaderboard
LEADERBOARD: Scorers keep a close eye on the action
Seon Woo Bae of Korea
RIVAL: Seon Woo Bae of Korea
Charley Hull of England
Charley Hull of England sends the ball flying.
Lydia Ko's final hole
NICE ONE: Lydia Ko celebrates chipping in for birdie on the last hole.
NZ Women's Golf Open
COMPETING: Caroline Martens of Norway.
Jessica Speechley of Australia
INTERNATIONAL: Jessica Speechley of Australia
NZ Women's Golf Open
REFUELLING: An official snacks on a pie while he awaits the players.
Beth Allen
A CLOSER LOOK: Beth Allen from the USA
Lydia Ko starts on day two
DAY TWO: Lydia Ko makes her start at Clearwater.
Kyu Jung Baek of Korea
SWING ACTION: Kyu Jung Baek of Korea
Lydia Ko's colourful golf cart
COLOURFUL: Lydia Ko's with her golf cart.
Women's Golf Open - Day Two
HAVING A CHAT: Stacey Keating, left, from Australia with Lydia Ko.
Anya Alvarez
RESULT: Anya Alvarez, USA, celebrates finishing her round in the lead.
Tyler Kingi
FADING LIGHT: Kiwi Tyler Kingi plays a chip shot on 9.
Lydia Ko
CAREFUL: Lydia Ko on day two at Clearwater.
Lydia Ko
CROWD-PLEASER: Thousands came to watch Lydia Ko play.
Anya Alvarez
WINNING ACTION: American Anya Alvarez on day two.
Lydia Ko frowning
NOT HAPPY: Not every shot goes perfectly for Lydia Ko.
Anya Alvarez
AIMING FOR THE TOP: American Anya Alvarez
Anya Alvarez
FROM THE SHADOWS: Crowd watches American Anya Alvarez
Christel Boeljon
DAY THREE: Christel Boeljon of the Netherlands
Lydia Ko in action
CONCENTRATION: Lydia Ko on day three at Clearwater.
Clearwater crowd day three
SPECTATOR SPORT: A huge crowd has gathered at Clearwater, six deep in some places.
Mi Hyang Lee
CHAMPION: Mi Hyang Lee from South Korea celebrates with Kyu-Jung Baek, left and Seonwoo Bae from Korea.
Mi Hyang Lee
WINNING FORM: Mi Hyang Lee from South Korea.

It was the fear of letting down her fans that stopped an unwell Lydia Ko from pulling out of the New Zealand Women's Open yesterday.

The 16-year-old was taken to a Christchurch after-hours medical facility yesterday with stomach pains and what turned out to be an upset stomach.

Ko confirmed she nearly pulled out, but a source close to her family said a fear of letting down the public and disappointing a crowd of nearly 4000 helped make up her mind.

Lydia Ko
LOW KO: Champion Kiwi golfer Lydia Ko spent yesterday morning at a Christchurch after-hours medical facility with a stomach complaint before playing on at the New Zealand Women’s Open.

The world No 4 did not eat for 24 hours as she battled her illness, but still shot a second straight three-under 69 to be alone in second place. She said she felt unwell during her round, but had taken medication and still gravitated towards the top of the leaderboard, behind surprise leader American Anya Alvarez.

It is understood Ko was taken to Christchurch's 24 Hour Surgery, but there was a large queue. A family friend then called another friend who works in the medical sector. They rang the clinic and Ko was rushed through.

She was still a long way from 100 per cent when her round started yesterday afternoon.


She showed few ill effects, though did look low on energy and was keen to leave the Clearwater course as soon as she could.

After starting with four straight pars, Ko picked up shots on the par-five fifth, the par-four sixth and she chipped in on the eighth hole.

She gave a shot back on the ninth before playing the back nine one-under, courtesy of two more birdies and a three-putt-bogey on 18.

She remained confident she could still defend her crown.

"Two shots? That can happen over a hole," she said.

It's surely an ominous sign that Ko can still be in touch with the lead and shoot three-under when she's far from her best.

Her main concern, however, wasn't winning. "Maybe [I'll think about winning] if I do get really close or if I'm in that position where I'm leading. But right now I just want to feel better because this is not the only tournament I'm playing for the year. I've got lots to come.

"I haven't had a proper meal since yesterday.

"It seems like she [Alvarez] is playing really well so I've just got to keep to my own pace and obviously I'm going to try my best to win but you really don't know because a lot of players are five-under and stuff so they could be the one that shoots six-under tomorrow."

There are six players within four of the 24-year-old Alvarez who has much happier memories of this low round than another.

In 2012, she shot an eight-under 64 and in all the celebrations she forgot to sign the card and was disqualified.

She has conditional status on the LPGA Tour and is hoping to qualify for the Australian Open in a fortnight by playing well today.

Ko is used to the big galleries now and it is expected yesterday's crowd of 3891 will be comfortably topped.

Alvarez has never played in front of such a big gallery. "I just hope that they are kind enough to cheer for me when I hit a good shot too," she said.

"It will be fun tomorrow. I've never led a tournament before so this is pretty exciting. But I have to keep my head in the game. I have 18 more holes to play."

New Zealand No 2 Cathryn Bristow is set for a handy payday and is in a tie for 16th after a second-round, one-under 71. It was an up and down round for the 29-year-old, which included five birdies and four bogeys.

Northland's Caroline Bon is the third Kiwi to make the cut, despite shooting a three-over 75 and finishing on the cut line at two-over.

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