WOBURN, England (Reuters) - Lydia Ko says she is “super excited” at the prospect of competing in her first Olympics next month although the women’s world number one has decided against living at the Games village in Rio de Janeiro.
Golf is returning to the Games for the first time since 1904 but the 19-year-old South Korean-born New Zealander wants to keep things as normal as possible for the 72-hole strokeplay competition in Brazil.
“I’ve been excited about the Olympics since they announced it,” Ko told Reuters in an interview after a rousing three-under-par 69 sent her sprinting through the field in the third round of the Ricoh Women’s British Open on Saturday.
“Now that it’s around the corner in a couple of weeks my heart is pounding.
“I was always going to stay outside of the village. I’d love to stay in the village and get to meet other New Zealand athletes but, no, I’ve decided to stay out so I can keep similar routines to when I play these kind of events (at Woburn).”
Double major winner Ko will be living at a hotel with her family, coach and New Zealand golf officials.
The teenager loves home cooking and staying outside the Olympic Village will help her to maintain the same sort of lifestyle she has during regular tour events.
“I feel like I should try and not change my routines that much,” said Ko. “I’m staying with my sisters so I should be in a similar atmosphere off the course — I feel that would be a good way to go.
“I don’t want to change my routines that much even though it’s the Olympics.”
Ko’s agent Michael Yim told Reuters: “She always travels with her family and if she stays in the village she has to stay alone.
“Staying at a hotel she has a little more flexibility to go out if she wants to go out. Not that you can’t in the village but it’s kind of like constrained.
“I think she just wanted a bit more comfort. That was always the decision from the get-go ... she’ll have support for anything she needs,” added Yim.
Ko believes the Rio Games will boost knowledge and awareness of women’s golf and provide the sport with a huge lift.
“Golf is quite an individual game,” she said. “Obviously we need a team around us but at the Olympics you are not just representing yourself and your team but your country as well.
“I think this could make a big difference in the game of golf especially women’s golf.”
There was certainly a big difference in Ko’s game on Saturday compared to the opening two rounds at the fourth and penultimate women’s major of the season.
The teenager went on an inspired run, firing six birdies in nine holes to the 16th.
A lot of Ko’s work was undone, though, when she lost her ball off the tee at the 18th and slipped to a closing double-bogey six.
“It’s tough to finish on that but it’s the best score I’ve had during this tournament,” she said after finishing with a three-under total of 213.
“The best cure for a double-bogey is a toffee, or sugar, any type of sugar; I love my chocolate,” laughed Ko.
Editing by Clare Fallon