Questions about Lydia Ko's swing changes, caddie switch and self-described slump went out the window Friday when the world No.1 silenced critics with a Tournament record 10-under par, 62 at Tiburon Golf Club.
Ko leads the field at 12-under par, three-strokes clear of Ryann O’Toole and So Yeon Ryu.
Ko was seen working late into the night on Thursday with instructor David Leadbetter after carding an opening round of 70 that left her six-strokes off the pace.
The 19-year-old said a video he showed her of her first ever career hole-in-one at the Olympic games in Rio sparked her low round on Friday.
“Brings back a lot of great memories. Even though that moment I really didn't expect to make a hole-in-one. I got so close so many times. To know my first hole-in-one would be at the Olympics, it was something I couldn't have ever dreamt of,” Ko told the media.
“To see that swing, you know, I was hitting the ball really well at the Olympics. It gave me all the positive thoughts. I hit the ball pretty well yesterday. He said, I think we only need a few minutes and we'll be okay.”
Ko was more than okay. She opened with three consecutive birdies and added another at the sixth hole to go out in 32 and then caught fire at the turn, carding seven birdies, one par and one bogey on her inward nine to come in with 30. The round matches a personal best for Ko who carded a second round 62 at the 2016 Walmart NW Arkansas Championship and went on to win.
“Yeah, I mean, so much better than I could have ever imagined. I'm going to go and have -- I've been eating all day -- but I'm going to have some more food and then just have a couple putts and hit a few balls and kind of go,” said Ko.
“I think hopefully that will give me good momentum going into the weekend. I mean, I started off kind of average yesterday, but I was able to fight back. I think that gave me good momentum going into today.”
The world No.1 says she isn’t trying to think about her second place position in the Rolex Player of the Year standings, money title and Race to CME Globe but when asked about Sunday’s top-honors, indicated she knows exactly where she stands.
“I think the big key mindset for me is that I've been not really thinking about everything that could happen. For me to win player the year I know I need to win this championship,” Ko said. “ A lot of things come with that.”
At No.2 in the Race to the CME Globe standings, Ko holds one of the coveted top-3 positions that allow her to control her own destiny on Sunday in that by winning the Tour Championship she will also capture the $1 million dollar bonus – a feat she pulled off in 2014.
O’Toole sits in a share of second, three-strokes back of Ko heading into the weekend. She’s off to her best start since March’s JTBC Founders Cup and credits having her instructor Jorge Parada on-site with her this week for her improved play. O’Toole tells LPGA.com she’s happy with her position and doesn’t mind playing from behind and even relishes the challenge of trying to catch the world No.1 she’ll be grouped with on Saturday.
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