March 30, 2016 / 10:33 PM / 3 years ago

Ko, Park head top-flight field for year's first major

(Reuters) - World number one Lydia Ko said she was looking forward to a less stressful major at this week’s ANA Inspiration after securing her maiden major title at last year’s Evian Championship.

Aug 23, 2015; Coquitlam, British Columbia, CAN; Lydia Ko drives during the fourth round at Vancouver Golf Club. Mandatory Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

“I’m just going to look at it as any other four-day event and just have fun out there and hopefully play some good golf,” Ko told reporters ahead of Thursday’s opening round of the first major women’s championship of 2016.

Ko could very well be to be in the hunt for her second successive major crown as she is coming off a win at last week’s Kia Classic to go along with a pair of runner-up finishes and a tie for third in five tournaments played this year.

The 18-year-old New Zealander rose to the occasion at last year’s Evian Championship at Evian-Les-Bains, France, in her final chance to surpass Morgan Pressel as youngest woman to win a major.

“Going into Evian I think was the most pressure. It was the last event, the last time I could possibly break Morgan’s record,” she said, adding with relief, “It’s all behind us.”

The top 19 ranked players in the world are in the field at Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage, California.

World number two Park In-bee, the 2013 winner at Mission Hills, is also coming off a satisfying season.

Park claimed the Vare Trophy for scoring average, won her seventh major with victory in the Women’s British Open to complete a career grand slam and qualified for the Hall of Fame.

“I’m really happy with what I achieved last year just because those are the things that I planned on doing last year and dreamed of doing last year,” the former world number one said on Wednesday.

“So I’ve done what I’ve needed to do. I was very satisfied with the result.”

Now comes a six-month stretch that includes five majors, the Rio Olympics and the International Crown.

“This year’s definitely going to be a very historical year and a very special year for women’s golf,” said Park.

“There are a big seven tournaments that are kind of in my mind and in a lot of the girls’ minds. So I think it’s going to be a very interesting year.”

Reporting by Larry Fine in New York; Editing by Frank Pingue

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