Date: February 23, 2015
Author: Golf Australia

Lydia Ko – Sunday transcript

Q: Lydia, congratulations. You came in as the favourite, but there was plenty of work to do to get your first Australian Open.

A: “Yeah it was really tough. You could see that the scores were getting up and down, somebody was leading, there was a tie, so it was very interesting, interesting for the spectators. When you’re a player, you wish you had a five-shot lead. It was tough but I tried to make myself have a lot of opportunities and it’s great to finally win the Australian Open.”

Q: Let’s go back to your pitch in for eagle on the 3rd. What a shot. Can you describe how you played it and felt when you knew it went in?

A: “The first two holes I three-putted and you really don’t want to start on that kind of a note especially on the final day when you know you need to play really well. That third hole really kicked off well. I couldn’t really see the ball drop in the hole but people were clapping and it was getting louder as the ball was getting closer. It was great and it really helped my round.”

Q: Did you know that Amy Yang was challenging you and going blow for blow?

A: “Yeah, whenever I saw the leaderboard, she had made another birdie and another one so I was like, ‘ok, you need to get your stuff together and you need to make birdies’. She’s such a consistent player and she’s been putting so well on these fast greens so I knew she was tough to get rid of.”

Q: Another key moment, the birdie at 12. That was crucial to your chances today.

A: “I made a good putt on that hole yesterday and I made another good putt there. I thought it was short but I put all my prayers into that putt and told it to go and it dropped and that was awesome.”

Q: Two thirds in the last couple of years at the Australian Open, you’re the youngest ever Australian Open champion. Can you sum up the emotion?

A: “It’s great. I struggled in the last round at the last couple Australian Opens but this year, I played pretty solid. I think that’s a really important thing and just to win on such an amazing golf course here at (Royal Melbourne), I think that’s another bonus.”

Q: Lydia, how did it feel out there today? Were you very nervous?

A: “I had a shaky start so that kind of got me more nervous. I came back with a pretty awesome eagle and that kind of settled down my nerves. I was playing with Ariya who was playing really good golf and Amy was right in front and I could see that she was making a lot of birdies. It kind of made me a bit anxious because I wasn’t making a lot for birdies but I tried to keep my mind together and it ended up being great.”

Q: you said that to win around Royal Melbourne would be really special. Is that the case?

A: “Yes I think so. There’s no other course like these sandbelt courses. To win on such an amazing course here, it’s amazing. I had so much fun when I was playing here in 2012 but to come out on top here and say I beat the golf course is pretty awesome. It’s so tough and you can see by the scores that it’s hard to make one birdie.”

Q: You’re 17, this is win number nine. It feels like you’ve been around forever. It’s quite extraordinary. How does it feel for you at your age?

A: “It’s pretty cool. It’s cool that I’m actually on the LPGA as a tour member as a 17-year-old and just to be one of the youngest tour members is another special thing but to be able to win here is amazing. It’s been so much fun playing here. It’s pretty awesome. I feel so fortunate that I can play these great tournaments at these great golf courses and travel around the world. That’s the most important thing, that I’m having fun and I’m getting all these great opportunities. Winning is another great thing but just being able to play here is my favourite thing.”

Q: What were the keys to winning here? Patience and controlling your emotions?

A: “I think patience is probably the biggest one. You’ve got to hit good shots but I think patience was the biggest one that you needed to have. Here, there are so many putts that can be so close but then end up being a couple of feet by and you look back and think ‘how did I make that bogey?’ but it’s kind of easy to do. It’s hard to make birdies but so easy to make bogeys or worse. I think just patience, that’s what I tried to have. I was talking to David (Leadbetter) yesterday and he said ‘Lydia, you’ve just got to have that patience and just wait for the birdies to come’.

Q: How does a 17-year-old celebrate such a victory?

A: “I’m flying home really soon and I’ll be playing back in New Zealand next week. I don’t know what they have to celebrate on the plane but I know I won’t be getting any closer to alcohol than I was a day ago. I think it’s great. My sister’s here, my mum’s here, my agent’s here. We’ll have hopefully good food. Just being able to go home is a big thing. I won in Naples last year and I got to go home and here I get to win and then go home too, that’s the biggest prize.”

Q: You said earlier that the suspension in play seemed to help you.

A: “I still had work to do on nine with that putt. I was frustrated with my bogey on eight, I felt like it was a hole I shouldn’t really come off with a bogey. That break was really good. I got to have my lunch, I normally nibble along when I’m playing, but I got to have a proper lunch and settle down, chat with the other girls and it kind of got me back to square and also the wind direction changed a little bit. If we had continued playing, I think number 10 would have been straight into the wind but it played across and there was pretty much no wind. That was another advantage I think. I know that’s a hole where you’d like to come off with a birdie so I think it was one of the lucky parts from the delay.”

Q: Can you talk us through your bogey save at the eighth?

A: “It was going downwind and I think a little bit of adrenaline kicked in and I just hit it way too high on such firm greens where everything is going away from you. I just hit it hard and didn’t have the easiest of chips and I tried to hit a flop shot and that didn’t go as well as I thought, nowhere near.”

Q: Was that the only option there?

A: “No, I could have bumped it into the hill, I think that was the safer shot. After I hit the shot, I said, ‘I should have just hit that shot the first time’. Even if I didn’t make a par, it’s an easier bogey and I had to work really hard for that bogey. I think that bogey putt was really good and if I’d made a double, today could have been a whole different story.”

Q: Generally how do you control your nerves out of the golf course when you start to get nervous?

A: “I take longer deep breaths, have lots of water, just kind of talk to myself and say, ‘ok, you deserve to be in this position, just go out there and have fun and just concentrate on your game’. It sounds kind of nuts to say that you’re talking to yourself but I think that kind of helps me to take it a step back and just look at the small picture for that moment.”

Q: We’ve heard from several players that conditions this week were like a major. Does this win give you more confidence heading into this major season?

A: “I reckon this is one of the toughest courses we play. Some courses, without the wind it plays easy but here, with or without, it’s tough. Just to know I’ve played well on these type of courses gives me a lot of confidence but next week is a totally different course. I’ll be changing a little bit of my technique. It’s just one week at a time and this is definitely a great start to my season.”

Q: Did you decide to play more aggressively after the weather delay? You appeared to take more aggressive lines.

A: “To the pins, I got a couple really lucky bounces. I kind of pushed it on 11 and it just carried the bunker and there was like zero point zero one chance of it doing that because it’s so tight around the greens to the bunkers so I was really lucky with that and then I got another lucky bounce on 12 so it wasn’t that I was aggressive, my shot became aggressive and it ended up being pretty good.”

Q: Is there a sense that the pressure is off with your first win as world number one?

A: “I didn’t really know how I would play and how I would react to becoming world number one and I always wondered that. Sometimes I got close and I was still world number two, three or four and then after Ocala (the Coates Golf Championship) I couldn’t pull off the win but then I became world number one. I played average in the first two days in the Bahamas but then I fired back. It’s good to know that just from my confidence that I can still play good and not really think about the world rankings.”

Q: David Leadbetter said ‘be tall, be smart.’ Is that what he said to you?

A: “Yes.”

Q: What’s that about?

A: “We’ve been working on my swing and ‘be tall’ is the part in my swing where I shouldn’t dip my head and I would say my height is 5’3”.7 so he said ‘Lydia, you were 4’11” the other day’. He told me to keep my height and said ‘you were 5’3”.8’ and I was like ‘ok, I’m getting taller’. We were talking about that in the sense of ‘be tall’, ‘be cool’, because we discussed that it was going to be hot yesterday and it was going to be hot again today and also be cool in the head too, be smart, play safe when you need to and then be aggressive. ‘Play smart’ was really the biggest thing he told me at the beginning of this week.”

Q: Can you talk us through the ink that you’ve got on your arm?

A: “It’s the Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic tournament win date last year in April. It’s my first win on the LPGA as a LPGA tour member. My parents were there and I felt like it was a very memorable win so I got that tatted up.”

Q: Does it feel like yesterday when you won the 2012 Women’s New South Wales Open?

A: “No. It feels like a lot of things have happened in that time. Not the time that I won, but the year before when I came second, it really helped me with my confidence, just to know that I can be close in these professional events was such a cool thing that I realised and it gave me a lot of confidence and helped start my way towards becoming a professional and it feels like a long time. I feel like I really want to go back to Oatlands again and play. It’s a lot of great memories and a lot of things have happened in those years. Time flies, I’m still 17 though.