SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Lydia Ko was unusually sloppy by her own lofty standards in the opening rounds of the HSBC Women’s Champions but the world number one was keen to focus on the positives of her improvement over the weekend.
The New Zealander finished second in Singapore a year ago and was expected to go one better this week until she reached the halfway mark of the $1.5 million restricted-field LPGA tournament at one-over-par and nine strokes off the lead.
The 18-year-old struggled on the Serapong Course’s vast greens until she was able to get a grip of the conditions and bounced back with a five-under-par 67 on Saturday, eventually finishing tied for 15th at seven-under after closing with a 69.
She stormed out of the blocks on Sunday and at one stage had closed to within four of the lead before a poor finish dropped her out of contention as Korea’s Jang Ha-na eased to a four-shot victory thanks to a stunning back nine.
“I had a good front nine but didn’t finish very well, so that was a little disappointing. Overall the weekend was some pretty solid golf, so I’m proud of that,” Ko told reporters.
“I feel like it could have been better. I didn’t hole that many putts this week but I tried to give myself quite a few opportunities over the weekend.”
Prior to Singapore, Ko had enjoyed a good start to the campaign by claiming a third New Zealand Open title and two top-10 finishes on the LPGA, results she is content with as she looks to add to her 15 victories in professional events.
“I’m playing really solidly, so I just have to take the positives from this week,” she added. “Overall, I’ve had a pretty solid start to the season, so I’m pleased with that.”
Ko has been working on her game with renowned swing coach David Leadbetter but realizes there are plenty of areas where she can still improve to iron out mistakes.
“I think it’s never perfect and I’m pretty sure there will be times where it will be close to perfect and we’ll work towards that,” she said of her swing.
“I don’t know if the swing can ever be perfect or have a perfect round but I felt like I struck the ball better the last two days, so that was a good sign.”
Reporting by John O'Brien; editing by Sudipto Ganguly