The NZ Women's Open: Winners and losers
OPINION: As the Lydia Ko show, better known as the New Zealand Women's Open, moves away from Clearwater and members try their best to replicate winner Mi Hyang Lee's magical round, On The Tee has a look back at the good, the bad and the ugly of the event.
The Good Lee was sensational. While Ko and co were battling it out trying to beat each other and the Clearwater course, Lee was slaying it.
The world No 256 - which made her just the 94th best South Korean - made an eagle and seven birdies in her flawless round which included just 26 putts. She was simply brilliant. And modest to boot; she spent half the post-tournament press conference with her head in her hands embarrassed at her perceived lack of English which, for the record, was fine.
Like Ko she was also crook with a stomach bug early in the tournament, but was back to her best by Sunday.
Ko wasn't and was very close to pulling out of the event all together before her second round, but hung tough because she didn't want to let any fans down.
Lee's world ranking leapt from 256 to 145 while the second and third-best New Zealanders both did well too.
Cathryn Bristow and Caroline Bon both finished in a tie for 26th at even par. Bristow climbed 57 places to 502, Bon 122 places to 566 while former Kiwi Cecilia Cho, who fired a final round two-under 70 to finish one-under and in a tie for 20th, leapt 228 places to 611 in the world. The Bad The crowds. There were plenty of them, but the behaviour of a few was pretty poor.
Ko said players would rather have big crowds than well-behaved crowds, but it's not so clear all her playing partners felt the same. After Ko had putted out, the often five-deep gallery would start talking and moving while the other players were still putting out.
In their defence there were no signs explaining the basic etiquette, but one would have thought common sense might have prevailed.
Also, the group of middle-aged women wishing Ko's opponents' balls into trouble; that's just the behaviour of average human beings. The Ugly The hole-in-one competition was a joke. Laura Davies shanked her ball, three others missed the green all together and 36-hole leader Anya Alvarez was on the green, but miles away. The rules around the insurance of the $1m prize meant the players had to hit from 165m and they didn't even scare the flag.
The idea was solid, the crowd was bumper, but the execution very average.
A 130m competition would have been so much more exciting or, if it had to be 165m, they should have opened it up to more players or added punters too.
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