SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Singapore’s steamy temperatures will be no less a challenge than the star-studded field at the HSBC Women’s Champions for teenaged world number one Lydia Ko’s bid for her third successive title.
The 17-year-old New Zealander discovered it was not just sweaty palms that golfers have to cope with in the humid Southeast Asian citystate when she played in the 2012 Queen Sirikit Cup.
“At that time, I had glasses and the moment I opened the door and went out my glasses just fogged up straightaway,” Ko told reporters on Wednesday.
“I was like, ‘man’, obviously this is like going to freeze up the whole time.”
The large-framed glasses were ditched at the start of this year in favor of contact lenses and the switch has coincided with her becoming the youngest golfer, across genders, to top the world rankings.
Undeterred by the pressure of the position, Ko has won her last two events in Australia and at her home New Zealand Open, where she threatened golf’s magical number, 59, in the second round.
The Seoul-born Ko will look to make it three consecutive wins when she returns to Singapore for the LPGA tournament, which starts on Thursday and boasts a field that includes 19 of the top-20 women’s golfers in the world.
“I have had such a great last two weeks, so obviously there’s expectation. You’re world number one and a lot of people think you should win every week because you are, but that’s really not the case,” she said.
“Hopefully I’m going to keep myself cool. I think that’s the big thing here. You can be playing good golf and then the heat gets to you and you start making a couple of mistakes. I’m going to keep myself cool and try and have some fun.”
Enjoyment was central for Ko on Wednesday as she spoke about the fun of appearing in a pre-tournament fashion show, where she blew kisses to the crowd after taking catwalk tips from fellow LPGA professional Jessica Korda.
More pleasure is in store when her name is announced on the first tee on Thursday with the prefix of “world number one”.
“Hearing it on the tee it’s pretty exciting stuff but when I’m out there I’m not really thinking about it,” said Ko.
“It’s always been my dream so hopefully I can become one of the world’s great female golfers and it feels like I’m right there. Obviously I have a lot of things to work on.”
Her game might appear to lack little work but it will be off the course where the demands will heavily increase as she starts university later this year.
Ko, who was named one of the 25 most influential teenagers in the world by Time magazine in October, will study psychology at Korea University in Seoul.
“I’m pretty sure its going to be a tough journey, study and playing golf at the same time,” Ko said.
Editing by Sudipto Ganguly