RANCHO MIRAGE, CALIF. – What do you do before showing up at the season’s first major as defending champion after missing your first cut since June 2015?
“Oh, I hung out (last weekend) and watched a movie with another player,” world No. 1 Lydia Ko said after missing only the second cut of her career at the Kia Classic, where she was also the defending champion. “I just wanted to have a day off and chill out. There’s a really good shabu-shabu place like 10 minutes from here. So, I said, ‘Hey, I’ve got one more day to eat shabu-shabu.’ At least I missed the cut at a very nice place.”
Ko seems completely unfazed by the concern and criticism she’s received for changing clubs, coaches, caddies and golf swings while sitting atop the world ranking. Speculation has run rampant that she may be repeating the pattern set by players like Corey Pavin, Suzann Pettersen and others who changed equipment and coaches at the height of their success only to struggle for several years afterward.
She also deflected any suggestion that her parents are taking an overbearing role in these decisions. When asked, in generic terms, about the role of parents on the LPGA Tour, Ko said, “My parents have been really supportive of me ever since I was an amateur. My mom pulled my little golf cart when I won the U.S. (Women’s) Amateur in 2012, and she’s traveled with me all over the place. My dad’s always been there with me to train and practice.
“They have been super supportive and I know that I couldn’t be here without them. Honestly, I’m not the most organized person, so they help me to put everything in place. I’m here because of them.”
No one can predict how Ko will respond to the changes, or react to the missed cut last week. But it’s worth noting that the last time she missed a cut, which was the inaugural KPMG Women’s PGA Championship at Westchester Country Club, she reeled off three victories, a runner-up, and two third-place finishes before the end of the season and won the Race to the CME Globe.
“Last time I missed the cut, I went (to Manhattan) and watched Wicked on Saturday,” Ko said. “Hopefully it doesn’t happen often. But at least I chose the right places to do it.”