She’s only 24, but Lydia Ko has the experience and wisdom of someone three times her age. That could be attributed to becoming the youngest to ascend to No. 1 in the Rolex Rankings, when 17-year-old Ko did so in 2015. That same year, she captured her first major title at the Amundi Evian Championship and Rolex Player of the Year honors, the youngest to ever win the award.
Perhaps the catalyst for triggering the incredible run: Ko’s 2014 CME Group Tour Championship win.
“I walked past my photo the other day and I was like, ‘Dang, I've either aged a lot or, yeah,’ in the seven years. I feel like it has been more than seven years, but then at the same time I can't believe it has been [that long]. Baby-face Lydia; maybe I should rock the glasses again,” Ko said with a smile as she reflected on her victory.
“That year, my putting was good, so I think that's going to be one of the biggest keys [again this week].”
Ko found the winner’s circle at the LOTTE Championship in April for the first time since the 2018 Mediheal Championship, and just the second time since her four-win season in 2016. It was a long time coming, a journey filled with peaks and valleys and a turning point at the 2017 Indy Women in Tech Championship.
“I think there was a point where I was very comparative to myself when I was No. 1 in the world. I think at that point I was just comparing myself to the past, and that's kind of not the place I wanted to be at,” said Ko, who won the Saudi Ladies Invitational on November 7 for her second world-wide of the season. “Stacy Lewis actually advised me to say, ‘Hey, you got to be the best version of yourself now and not try to be who you were in the past.’ It meant a lot for somebody like her to say that to me, and then I think it really hit me then [in Indianapolis].
“I'm hitting it longer than before, than in 2015, 2016. That's probably one of the biggest things within my game. But I feel like my game itself is very different; how I approach things is different as well. Every experience changes you. For the good or the bad, I don't know. Age is just a number, but experience is a whole new thing.”
Entering the season finale at No. 3 in the Race to the CME Globe standings, Ko has turned back the clock but the differences in her game, in her life have prepared her for this moment. She’ll begin the quest for a second CME Group Tour Championship title tomorrow off No. 1 of Tiburón Golf Club at 9:15 a.m. ET.