Lydia Ko may have been born in South Korea and hail from New Zealand, but the teen phenom undoubtedly has a special place in her heart for Canada.
For it’s there, in the United States’ friendly neighbor to the North, where she broke through into the winner’s circle two years ago and added a second title last year to her growingly impressive resume. Ko leads the Tour to London Hunt and Country Club in Ontario – the site of the 2006 event won by Cristie Kerr – to defend her title at the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open with thoughts of a three-peat in mind.
Ko became the youngest tournament winner in LPGA history two years ago at this event and then became the only amateur to win multiple titles and successfully defend a title with her five-shot triumph a year ago, and she’d love to add another win this week. The 17-year-old heads into this week in fine form after a third-place finish at the Wegmans LPGA Championship on Sunday, her ninth top-10 of the season.
A two-time winner in 2014, Ko has to be among the favorites to reign supreme this week, but she will have to earn it against a strong field that includes Wegmans champion Inbee Park, world No. 1 Stacy Lewis and 2014 major champions Lexi Thompson and Mo Martin. Ko will also have to contend with 2014 multiple-event winners Jessica Korda, Anna Nordqvist and Karrie Webb, as well as the tournament’s 2011 champion Brittany Lincicome, who played great before losing on the first hole of sudden-death against Park on Sunday.
This tournament has roots dating back to 2001, when Hall of Famer Annika Sorenstam won, and boasts champions like Meg Mallon (2002, 2004), Hall of Famers Beth Daniel (2003) and Lorena Ochoa (2007) and Suzann Pettersen (2009). Tournament champions have finished double-digits under par 11 of the event’s 13 years, so this year’s winner will need to find some birdies on the par-72, 6,656-yard course on a daily basis.
Last year’s tournament was held at Royal Mayfair Golf Club, so players will need to get adjusted to the new host course quickly before the opening round begins on Thursday. Organized in 1885, London Hunt and Country Club features fox hunting, tennis and skeet and trap shooting in addition to golf.
Canadian Pacific is a transcontinental railway that stretches across the country and features ports in eight major cities, including Vancouver and Montreal. The company and tournament are dedicated to helping men, women and children improve heart health, and proceeds from the event will benefit the Children’s Health Foundation in London, Ontario.
For every birdie made on the 17th hole in tournament play, Canadian Pacific will donate $5,000 to the Children’s Health Foundation. The railway will be the title sponsor of the tournament for the next three years, so the LPGA’s Canadian stop is in good hands going forward.