Date: February 20, 2015
Author: Mark Hayes

If Lydia fumes, the scorecard boils


Heaven help the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open field if she falls out on the wrong side of the bed tomorrow.

The world No.1 did what that ranking would suggest yesterday, almost inexorably muscling to the top of the leaderboard at Royal Melbourne alongside Ha-Na Jang at six under.

But rather than one constant push, she did it in surges that she later admitted were inspired by rare fits of anger – or at least a small inward conniption more befitting such an outwardly placid champ.

It manifested itself today with an eagle on a par four on which the rest of the field was averaging almost half a shot over par.

Rather than taking her planned hybrid off the tee, Ko reached down and cracked a driver down to the more dangerous narrow section of the 15th fairway.

From there, a 124m nine-iron fluttered gently to the middle of the green and dropped on arguably its second last roll into the cup for the defining moment of her three-under-par second round.

She later said it was born of a sloppy par on the previous hole that had raised her ire.

“I made an eagle on 14 yesterday and then I was angry that I came off with a par today. I felt like it was a hole that I could easily come off with a birdie (so) I was kind of angry and that led me to hit a aggressive drive,” Ko said.

“I said (to caddie Jason Hamilton) ‘eight iron could be a little long’, so I decided to punch a nine iron and it landed just left of the pin and the mound kind of fed it right to the hole.”

In the next breath, Ko said she consulted overnight with renowned coach David Leadbetter who preached patience around the Sandbelt masterpiece.

Pressed about the contradiction, she offered a cheeky grin and then a typically well thought response.

“I do get angry. But then sometimes my anger is good because, like in Ocala (at the Coates Golf Championship three weeks ago), I slammed by putter after three-putting two holes in a row and then I made five birdies in a row,” she said.

“It’s a good thing, not too overly aggressive, but I think a little bit of anger is good because it just kind of lets the steam out.

“Sometimes I’ve had experiences where I’ve kind of packed it in. It’s definitely not helping me because I’m still mumbling, ‘Oh, you’re an idiot’, or whatever.

“But I think you really have to be patient out here. Jason said, ‘You have to try and not get frustrated around the course’.”

For the most part, Ko remained just that.

She followed a three-putt bogey on 16 with another angry birdie on 17, but otherwise was mellow and just “doing my best” to keep the ball on the right side of the holes on increasingly slick greens.

To that end, Ko, a veteran of Sandbelt golf despite her tender years having played much of her amateur career on this side of the Tasman, predicted the winning score wouldn’t be too far in advance of where the leaders lobbed after 36 holes.

“It’s a pretty tough track and some holes, when you’re coming up with a par, it’s a good score,” she said.

“I’m really not sure. If (the winning scoreis) two digits (under par), it will be a pretty impressive.”