Lydia Ko Rights the Ship at Mediheal

Ko Finally Wins Again at LPGA Mediheal

Over the past year or so, we’ve put Lydia Ko through the ringer and on the psychiatrist’s couch, searching for an explanation. Up to that time, she has won with some regularity on the LPGA Tour, and in the beginning stunned us with international victories as an adolescent. We are naturally tempted to think that the patterns she established early will simply continue in the same way., but that is not the way life works. The anomaly is that we fail to realize that, not anything that Ko does or doesn’t do.

We have waited through a stretch of forty-three events in the almost two-year period, and as we have with other golfers, our amateur Jungians and Freudians embark on a field day to find out what’s wrong with our former hero. Why is she broken? What did it? What’s wrong with her? I have no answers for any of that, or much interest for the questions themselves. However, I do know that the waiting is over. Lydia looked like our vision of  her real self last week, as she won the LPGA Mediheal over Minjee Lee. It was a particularly enjoyable duel, as both women did their parts sinking putts left and right, holing out on chip shots, and in Lee’s case, even losing brilliantly. Ko chipped in on 13, two-putted for a birdie on 15 following a brilliant wood from the fairway. Then she birdied 18 to force a playoff. Her win on the first of the extra holes had panache. To win a playoff with an eagle at the outset is a bit unusual. Added to the fun is that Lee did not self-destruct, despite a second shot into the rough. She still birdied the hole to lose by one. Competition is a lot of fun when everyone is bringing their good stuff. It’s a nice birthday for the winner, as she turned twenty-one just days ago.

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It is an important distinction that Ko has not experienced a losing streak, just a non-winning streak. There is a difference. The edge that made her game “great” took a leave of absence, in which she continued to play “well,” sometimes “very well.” There are many reasons for non-winning streaks, some of them serious. As we all know, Tiger’s bad stretch has been monumental, and Yani Tseng’s fall from the world’s number one is still mystifying.  However, many of us have never believed that Lydia was going through an epic crash, just a transition After all, that spectacular span of the last seven years came between the ages of fourteen and twenty-one, one of the most seismic growing-up periods of a human’s life.

Of interest to me is that a portion of Lydia’s preparation was a new cardial routine in which she lost fifteen pounds. I lost fifteen pounds once, but that was from being in Russia for a few months at a time when there was no food. Undoubtedly, I lost muscle mass, bone, and a little sanity. I don’t recommend it. Apparently, Ko grained strength and presumably the asset of feeling better. She commented that everyone out there is hitting the ball farther now, and that she felt it necessary to keep pace. She added that late round fatigue is not such an issue, and I sympathize with that one.

We can’t be sure where Ko is in her natural move toward independence, or whether her personnel changes are behind her for a while.  We know that at the age of twenty-one, she’s not on the wane, and should do impressive things with some regularity until she decides to hang up the clubs for something else. I’m still worried about Yani, and I experience a mix of empathy and anticipation for Tiger’s return, but no – I’m not worried about Lydia. She’s fine.

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