Lydia Ko is riding some good mojo into weekend contention as she bids to win her second LPGA title this year.
There’s something about the Swinging Skirts organization that brings out the best in Ko.
“I don’t think I’ve seen anyone who loves golf as much as they do,” Ko said.
She won her first LPGA title as a full member of the tour when Swinging Skirts was title sponsor of the event at Lake Merced outside San Francisco in 2014, and then she won the event there again the following year.
Now, Ko is in contention to win the Swinging Skirts LPGA Taiwan Championship at Ta Shee Golf & Country Club in Taoyuan City.
With a 6-under-par 66 Friday, the low round of the day, Ko moved into third place, two shots behind the homeland favorite, Taiwan’s Wei-Ling Hsu (67), and one shot behind Jodi Ewart Shadoff (71).
“I feel like I have a great relationship with the people here at Swinging Skirts, [tournament] chairman Wang, and everyone has been super supportive,” Ko said. “I love coming here. The food is amazing and the fans are great, and especially with so many of the Taiwanese players playing such great golf, I think everyone is super excited to see the LPGA.”
Hsu is trying to keep the LPGA’s run of home cooking going. She’s looking to become the sixth player to win on home soil this year. Georgia Hall won in England, Brooke Henderson won in Canada, In Gee Gun won in South Korea and Americans Annie Park and Marina Alex won in the United States.
Full-field scores from the Swinging Skirts LPGA Taiwan Championship
Actually, Ko said Taiwan’s home-cooked meals have been good for her, too. She joked that she’s thriving on baby food this week.
“The food is amazing,” Ko said. “My favorite thing actually at the buffet has been sweet, like pumpkin puree, but it’s not seasoned. I’m guessing it’s for the babies. So the best thing for me has been the baby food.”
Swinging Skirts is a non-profit organization based in Taiwan with a stated mission to grow the game globally. Its members wear skirts and kilts to pay homage to the game’s Scottish roots.
Ko, 21, won the LPGA’s Mediheal Championship in April, ending a 20-month victory drought. She continues to build on the new swing that coach Ted Oh has helped her shape this season. She’s coming off a tie for second at last week’s Buick LPGA Shanghai, her third top-10 finish in the last four weeks. She hasn’t finished worse than T-11 in her last four starts, with eight top-10 finishes overall this year.
“I feel like I’ve been playing better the last few months,” Ko said at week’s start. “For me, just having more competitive rounds under par builds the confidence. Sometimes, I feel like it’s the small things that kind of let me down, so I’m trying to be a bit more detailed and make sure that my focus levels are high and continuously high, and not only just at the start of the round, or the end of the round. Just trying to maintain the focus.”
Ko is No. 16 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings. She was asked by reporters in Shanghai last week how much she thinks about a return to No. 1.
“I would obviously love to be back there,” Ko said. “But, I’m not really thinking about my rankings. I don’t even know what it is right now. I’m just going out there and trying to play the best I can and making myself more opportunities to be in contention, to be at the top of the leaderboard.
“That’s all you can do. Sometimes, you get too carried away about the awards and rankings. It just becomes so much. To me, I think it’s more important to keep putting myself there, shooting in the 60s, and that way I think it builds the confidence and the rankings kind of sort itself out.”