Ko Not Feeling The Pressure
World No. 1 Lydia Ko returns to the course this week after posting a T9 finish at the Citibanamex Lorena Ochoa Match Play presented by Aeromexico and Delta two weeks ago. In three starts at the Kingsmill Championship Presented by JTBC, Ko has never finished outside the top 20, with her best finish coming as a rookie in 2014 when she was fifth. The stakes are high this week as only .23 points separate Ko from No. 2 So Yeon Ryu in the Rolex Rankings and .02 points separates Ryu from No. 3 Ariya Jutanugarn.
“I don’t really look at the rankings myself,” Ko said. “I don’t go in my spare time and look, Hey, what position am I in? I kind of know these things through media and when people tell me, Hey it’s getting close. It could change this week.”
Knowing the potential for change this week, Ko’s not worried about the rankings. “I know that the girls are playing amazing golf and there is an incredible amount of talent on this tour in the women’s game in general,” she said.
“I know I need to work hard,” Ko continued, “and I need to put that performance to try and maintain it. I just got to focus on the round, the shot in front of me, and not get too carried away about the results and the rankings. Just got to focus on me.”
Change On The Horizon
With World No. 1 Lydia Ko, No. 2 So Yeon Ryu and No. 3 Ariya Jutanugarn all teeing it up on the River Course, all eyes will be on the top three players as they battle for the No. 1 spot.
There are several possible scenarios for each player to be ranked No. 1 following the Kingsmill Championship:
- If Lydia Ko wins, she will remain No. 1
- If either So Yeon Ryu or Ariya Jutanugarn win, they will become No. 1
- If Ko, Ryu and Ariya finish T2, Ko will remain No. 1
- If Ko and Ariya finish T2 AND Ryu finishes 3rd or worse, Ko will remain No. 1
So Yeon Ryu could take over No. 1 if any of the following scenarios (12th or better finish) occur:
- Ryu is T2 with Ariya AND Ko finishes 3rd or worse
- Ryu is 2nd alone AND Ko and Ariya finishes T3 or worse
- Ryu is 3rd alone AND Ko and Ariya finishes T4 or worse
- Ryu is 4th alone AND Ko finishes 6th or worse AND Ariya finishes 5th or worse
- Ryu is 5th alone AND Ko finishes 11th or worse AND Ariya finishes 6th or worse
- Ryu is 6th alone AND Ko is not in top 14 AND Ariya is not in top 6
- Ryu is 7th alone AND Ko is not in top 18 AND Ariya is not in top 7
- Ryu is 8th alone AND Ko is not in top 24 AND Ariya is not in top 8
- Ryu is 9th alone AND Ko is not in top 30 AND Ariya is not in top 9
- Ryu is 10th alone AND Ko is not in top 40 AND Ariya is not in top 10
- Ryu is 11th alone AND Ko is not in top 50 AND Ariya is not in top 11
- Ryu is 12th alone AND Ko is not in the top 61 AND Ariya is not in the top 12
Ariya Jutanugarn could take over No. 1 if any of the following scenarios (7th or better finish) occur:
- Ariya is 2nd alone AND Ko and Ryu finish T3 or worse
- Ariya is 3rd alone AND Ko is not in top 5 AND Ryu is not in top 3
- Ariya is 4th alone AND Ko is not in top 8 AND Ryu is not in top 4
- Ariya is 5th alone AND Ko is not in top 14 AND Ryu is not in top 5
- Ariya is 6th alone AND Ko is not in top 21 AND Ryu is not in top 7
- Ariya is 7th alone AND Ko is not in top 29 AND Ryu is not in top 8
Teeing it up at the Kingsmill Resort alongside the 144-player field will be Maryland native and sponsor invite Kaylin Yost. In March, the hearing-impaired Yost and her story made waves when she Monday-qualified and subsequently played the weekend in her first LPGA tournament at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.
“It was very important,” said Yost, the 2014 Big South player of the year for Campbell University in North Carolina. “Fact that I birdied my first LPGA hole is something I’ll always remember, and shooting a 67.”
After an opening-round 67 in Phoenix, Yost didn’t have the finish she hoped for posting rounds of 71-75-75 to finish 74th, but she still found a lot of positives to take from her first LPGA outing. “Probably the best thing that’s happened for my golf game by far, is just really believing in myself,” she said. “And knowing that I came out strong and that I made the lowest LPGA cut.”
This week in Williamsburg, her goals are no different than any other LPGA player: to make the cut and get her name on the trophy. “When I’m here this week,” Yost said, “I am just going to know that I belong out here.”
Kerr At Home At Kingsmill
Cristie Kerr is one of only five LPGA players here this week to have played at the Kingsmill Championship every year since its inception in 2003 (the event was not held in 2010 or 2011), along with Christina Kim, Candie Kung, Becky Morgan and Angela Stanford.
Kerr has finished in the top seven in her last five starts this season. Couple that with a win at the LOTTE Championship and her 2017 season is off to a hot start. “Got to keep plugging away and get myself in position every week to win a golf tournament,” Kerr said.
Kerr is the only multiple winner of the Kingsmill Championship, with her three wins (2005, 2009, 2013) each coming in four-year increments. A win this week would keep the trend alive.
“All I can really control is try to get myself in the hunt every week,” she said, “and then come the back nine on Sunday hopefully some really good things will happen.”
It's A Bird, It's A Plan
Lexi Thompson today plunged (quite literally) into a new charitable partnership with the SEAL Legacy Foundation called the “Lexi Legacy Challenge”, completing her very first parachute jump by landing on the first tee for her pro-am round on the eve of the Kingsmill Championship.
Thompson made her sky diving debut in tandem with US Navy SEAL Larry Barbieri, then unbuckled from her flight suit before setting off with her pro-am partners at the Kingsmill Resort’s River Course.
“It’s been a huge honor to be in this position. It’s always been a dream of mine to be the No. 1 ranked player. For it to have happened so early and for it to have happened, it’s something I’m very fortunate about.”
- Lydia Ko on holding the No. 1 ranking for 82 consecutive weeks
“The whole tour, the amount of talent is huge. I think you can see that through obviously all our winners this year, and when you see at the end the year the first time winners, eight, nine new winners, you go, Wow. It’s not just about three players. Not just about the big three. It’s about the whole tour.”
- Ko on the 10 different winners on Tour so far this season
“I know I’m good enough to be out here, I know that I can compete among some of the top players. I learned a lot about myself as far as confidence, and like I said, that I’m good enough to be out here.”
- Sponsor invite Kaylin Yost on what she learned in her first LPGA tournament (Bank of Hope Founders Cup)
- The Kingsmill Championship marks the 11th event of the 2017 season, with 10 different winners so far this is the longest the Tour has gone without having a repeat champion since 1991. That year the LPGA did not have a repeat winner until the 16th event.
- Karrie Webb, who is playing in her 11th Kingsmill Championship, and Annika Sorenstam both won their titles by a tournament-record seven strokes (in 2006 and 2008, respectively)
- Suzann Pettersen has made the cut all 10 times she has competed at Kingsmill
- So Yeon Ryu has played in four Kingsmill Championships and has yet to finish outside the top 10 (eighth in 2013, fifth in 2014, second in 2015 and tied for 10th in 2016)
- Through 10 events, Ryu leads the Tour with 22 rounds in the 60s. She has shot in the 60s at Kingsmill in 11 of her 18 career rounds, including all four rounds in 2015