Can Lydia Ko Win it for a Third Time?
When the Canadians hold a golf tournament on the pro tour, it feels a little different to those of us who live down south. It’s the subtle distinction between history and tradition. Augusta mostly gives off the feeling of the latter, but the London Hunt and Country Club emits a little more of both.
Golf wasn’t the first thing on the list when this club came into being. There has been trap-shooting, fox hunting, off-and-on tennis, and even a military steeplechase in the first year. The club officially dates back to 1843, but was more formally established in 1883, forty years later. Along the way, a nine hole course was opened in 1904, and the full eighteen appeared in 1917. In the fifties, however, the club moved to its present location, and Robert Trent Jones went all-out with a twenty-seven hole wonder that stands as the central course.
Why is this all important? It’s important because the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open is coming to London, Ontario. One shouldn’t ask why a tournament named “Pacific” is being played on the Atlantic side of the continent. One should rather be asking, is a change of venue enough to throw off Lydia Ko to the point where she can’t win her third Canadian Open in a row, before the age of eighteen?
Yes, Ko won the event in 2012 at the age of fifteen, and again in 2013 at sixteen. The only thing she hasn’t taken out of Canadian golf is prize money, having won in both years as an amateur. This year, she has money, wants more of it, and knows that Canada has been good to her, despite the fact that she hails from New Zealand.
So, what’s Ko’s deal with the Canadians? It couldn’t be one of the many excellent local and regional beers (even my favorite, Lethbridge Pilsner). I don’t think she’s legally old enough to drink it. Is she a hockey fan? A cooler climate person? What?
This course has pretty good distance, and some interesting obstacles to keep Ko at bay, although it won’t be making it any easier for her colleagues, either. Water is one thing, but to put a pond in the middle of a fairway, and add a bunker lip to the back side of it – well, that’s just a sure sign of someone’s mean streak up in Ontario. The weather should be wonderful, with no dramatic challenges to anyone’s game.
I wonder if this has ever happened before – a three-peat before the age of 18, two of them won as an amateur. I doubt it. Many prodigies have appeared on the LPGA tour, but nobody has just waltzed in and started winning, much less defending a title for the following two years. Ko, however, is deceptive. Under that playful, “Oh, isn’t this fun” smile, and the looseness with which she either takes or protects a lead, there’s a core of belief in there that tells her that this tournament belongs to her – at least it seems to tell her that in Canada.
Whatever happens in Ontario this week, we can rely on the beauty of nature that comes to this part of the world in late summer, and is so beautifully displayed in its golf courses. It will serve as a nice backdrop to the main story – a seventeen-year-old two time champion with game taking on a seventy-year-old course, with both history and tradition.