After opening her title defense with a 5-under 67, defending champion Lydia Ko battled through windy, chilly conditions on Friday at the BMW Ladies Championship to post a 3-under 69, one of just eight players to record a round in the 60s on day two. The 26-year-old got off to a fast start with a birdie on her first hole of the day but stumbled early with back-to-back bogeys on holes 2 and 3. She erased those mistakes with a pair of birdies on the par-3 4th and par-4 5th holes to move to 6-under overall and finally made her first par of the day on No. 6. Ko parred seven and then birdied eight, parring the ninth hole to turn in 34 and sit at 7-under for the tournament.
The 19-time LPGA Tour winner picked up her next birdie on the par-4 12th hole and grabbed another on the par-3 14th hole to get to 9-under. But she dropped a shot coming in, making a bogey on the par-3 16th hole, and wasn’t able to get it back, parring 17 and 18 to post at 3-under on the day.
It’s the first time Ko has recorded back-to-back rounds in the 60s since Thursday and Friday of the Dana Open, and it’s also the first time she has opened with a pair of sub-70 scores since that week in Toledo, Ohio. Ko is now a cumulative 53-under in her last 14 rounds at the BMW Ladies Championship, and today’s 69 marks her ninth straight round in the 60s in the tournament. The major champion – like the rest of the field – had to fight through the difficult conditions on Friday to try and post a decent score, but she didn’t expect how challenging it would be reading the wind direction in the second round, an external factor that can wreak havoc on golf shots if not paid attention to.
“I think it was forecasted to be pretty windy. But the most difficult part about today was how much the wind was changing,” said Ko, who hit 13 of 14 fairways and 14 of 18 greens. “Normally, when it's this windy, I think the wind stays pretty constant. It was very, very fluctuating. Everything you could potentially have on the compass was what we got. That's (what) my caddie, Paul, and I were talking about is that I think that might have been one of the toughest wind rounds because you have to be on the spot and then trust that, like pray to God hopefully it is what you're playing.
“I let a few get away from me with the putter. But that also means I'm giving myself a lot of good opportunities with the long game. I feel like I've played really solid the last couple of days, and I'm hoping to continue that on the weekend.”
Ko is currently ranked 101st in the Race to the CME Globe and is competing as a sponsor invite this week at the BMW Ladies Championship, meaning that unless she wins the event, she will be awarded no Race to the CME Globe points. She currently sits three shots behind leader Minjee Lee in a tie for fourth at 8-under with 36 holes to play at Seowon Hills at Seowon Valley Country Club and will have some work to do on Saturday and Sunday if she wants to have a shot at her 20th career LPGA Tour victory.
But for now, Ko is more worried about preparing herself mentally and physically for more of the same weather conditions in the coming days and knows that if she can stay committed to her shots like she did on Friday, she should have a chance at a successful title defense on Sunday in the Republic of Korea.
“I can't trust the weather map anymore. That's for sure,” said Ko. “I think tomorrow is going to be pretty similar in temperature to today. But I was very prepared, and I wore HEATTECH, and my clothing sponsor got me a lot of warm stuff. So, I honestly thought it was a lot warmer than I was anticipating. You just have to be very prepared. I feel like I hit a lot of quality shots throughout the last couple of days. I'm hoping to continue that on the weekend and see where that puts me.”
LYDIA KOOOOOOOOOO pic.twitter.com/1ppr2la8Qh— LPGA (@LPGA) October 20, 2023