When Lydia Ko hoisted the LOTTE Championship trophy in 2021, it had been 1,084 days since her last LPGA Tour victory. That victory opened the proverbial floodgates for the superstar from New Zealand. Since the win, she has notched two more worldwide victories, including the Gainbridge LPGA at Boca Rio in January. Her global schedule has seen 13 top-10 finishes, including the bronze medal at the Tokyo Olympics.
Needless to say, that win was big for Ko’s psyche.
“I think it was more proving to myself that I can be back in the winner's circle,” said Ko ahead of this week’s title defense. “I actually finished my season out pretty well. Started my season well in 2020 and 2021. To kind of win here was a confidence booster.”
Ko won in record-setting fashion, setting the LOTTE Championship’s 54- and 72-hole tournament scoring records at Kapolei Golf Club. This year’s tournament has a new venue, moving seven miles toward the Pacific Ocean to Hoakalei Golf Club. With the ocean proximity comes strong winds that are expected to gust to 30 mph all week. Ko said she has used her time so far on the course to learn how those ocean breezes will affect this layout.
“I played a practice round early in the morning yesterday and everything, like by 9 the wind was already picking it up. I think it's going to be pretty steady winds all week, so just being smart with that and keep it on the fairways I think is going to be the easiest way to find some of these greens,” she said. “There are some tougher holes where the wind is the opposite way to how the green sits, so that makes the greens a little bit smaller. So I think having like strategic target style in that kind of holes, and then the holes that are going to be a little bit easier or shorter, to really take advantage of those.”