Impressive is a word commonly used to describe world No. 1 Lydia Ko.
The 17-year-old wunderkind has been seemingly unflappable in recent years during her ascension to the top of the women’s professional game, and it is becoming difficult to decide which of her accomplishments rank the highest.
Is it becoming the youngest world No. 1 in the history of golf? Or perhaps winning $1.5 million at one event last November when she claimed the Race for the CME Globe in Florida? Or even winning, then defending an LPGA title in Canada at the ripe age of 15 and 16, respectively?
But it’s her most recent feat – tying Annika Sorenstam’s record for most consecutive sub-par rounds at 29 in a row – that she earned with a birdie on her 17th hole on Thursday in the first round of the ANA Inspiration that may be the leader in the clubhouse. Ko and Sorenstam now share the record for all of golf – the PGA Tour record is 26 straight by Tim Petrovic – and the teen phenom has a great chance to own the record on her own with a good day on Friday.
Her response to tying Sorenstam illustrated Ko’s intense focus on the task at hand rather than the big picture and showed just how good her mental game truly is.
“Today I was so busy trying to make up-and-downs, or trying to make a good two-putt or make some birdies, because I really wasn’t hitting my driver well, and here the rough can get pretty thick,” Ko said. “When you’re in that position, a record was the last thing I was thinking about. But, yeah, Lexi [Thompson] and I made two really good birdies on eight, and I got back to under par.”
Nothing seems to rattle Ko, and other players just shake their heads at her growing legacy and the things she’s able to do on the golf course. Sorenstam is one of Ko’s biggest fans and congratulated her on Twitter on Thursday.
Impressive may not be a strong enough word to fully encapsulate what Ko is in the midst of achieving. She has a long way to go (and plenty of time to do it) to be mentioned in the same breath as Sorenstam in a “greatest ever” conversation, but the affable teen with an easy smile is making headlines virtually every week.
What would her 29-round streak equate to in other sports? Twenty straight double-doubles in basketball? A stretch of 20-straight scoreless innings in baseball? Perhaps 15 consecutive 300-yard passing games in football?
That debate could go on forever, but suffice it to say that Ko’s latest achievement has to go down as one of the most impressive feats in professional golf in quite some time. What will she do for an encore?