Apr 3, 2015 10:57 PM
Lydia Ko's under-par streak ends at 29 with 1-over 73
The Associated Press
RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. (AP) Lydia Ko slashed out of the left rough on the par-4 13th hole and watched her ball bounce up on the elevated green, curl to the right and settle 15 feet from the pin.
Maybe this was her day after all. Back under par for the round after a birdie on the par-5 11th, the 17-year-old New Zealander was in position for another birdie and a cushion in her bid to break the LPGA Tour record for consecutive rounds under par.
Instead, the putt circled the cup and came back at her. Five holes and two bogeys later, she signed for a streak-ending 1-over 73 on Friday in the ANA Inspiration.
"After that 360 horseshoe, everything kind of turned around," Ko said. "I would have never thought it would do a whole circle around the hole. That's harder to do than holing that putt."
Needing a birdie on the par-5 18th to extend the streak to 30, Ko hit her second shot into the water after catching a flyer out of the right rough on her layup attempt.
"I just hit a three-quarter 6-iron," Ko said. "I would have never guessed that I was going to hit a 6-iron 190, not even if I was Lexi (Thompson). Obviously, that was the wrong club at the end of the day, but I thought even if it flew out of there, it would have at least stopped."
After a penalty drop, her fourth shot rolled 15 feet past and she missed the par putt.
On Thursday, the top-ranked Ko shot a 71 to tie the record set by Annika Sorenstam in 2004. Sorenstam is working the tournament as an analyst for Golf Channel.
"I applaud Lydia and her play over the last few months," Sorenstam said. "I'm impressed with the composure she shows at such a young age."
Ko's worldwide streak, counting her victory in the Ladies European Tour's New Zealand Women's Open, ended at 32.
Ko was tied for 30th at even par, seven strokes behind second-round leader Sei Young Kim. Before Ko started her afternoon round, Kim eagled the 18th for a 65 to get to 7-under 137. The long-hitting South Korean player hit a hybrid to 6 feet to set up the eagle.
"I really hit the ball well and my putting was really good," Kim said. "Everything was really good."
It wasn't for Ko, especially with her driver. She missed eight of the 14 fairways, four to the left and four to the right.
"I just wasn't hitting fairways and then it just kind of becomes no fun," Ko said. "It's fun because you're trying to hit hook shots and low shots out of the trees. In that way it's fun, but no, I just really couldn't get my driver going. When you're in that kind of position, it's not easy around this course."
After the horseshoe on 13, her 13-foot try on the par-3 14th went by the left edge and she bogeyed the par-4 15th to drop to even par.
On 15, she drove into the right rough a thick tangled mess of Bermuda, rye and poa annua grasses and tried to play a draw around a large tree.
She didn't make clean contact and the ball came up short, hitting high in the right greenside bunker and tumbling to the bottom. Her blast was too hard and low and went through the green, leaving a 15-footer from the fringe that she couldn't hole.
She missed a 20-foot birdie putt on the par-4 16th and a 10-footer on the par-3 17th. After Thompson holed a 13-foot par putt on 17 from the same line, Ko missed to the left.
"I didn't really pull it, but just kind of dove a little left," Ko said.
On the front nine, Ko rebounded from bogeys on Nos. 3 and 5 with birdies on Nos. 6 and 7, then bogeyed No. 8 and birdied the par-5 ninth to make the turn at even par.
Ko started the under-par streak in the first round of her victory last year in the season-ending event. She also won in Australia in February the week before her New Zealand victory.
The teen made her 49th straight cut on the LPGA Tour, a career-long streak that started with 15 events as an amateur. She also has 10 straight top-10 finishes.
The 22-year-old Kim won her first LPGA Tour title in February in the Bahamas. A five-time winner on the South Korean tour, she's making her 13th LPGA Tour start.
First-round leader Morgan Pressel was second at 5 under after a 72. She won the 2007 tournament to become the youngest major champion at 18 years, 10 months, 9 days.
Brittany Lincicome, the 2009 winner, was 4 under along with Jenny Shin and Catriona Matthew. Lincicome had a 68, and Shin and Matthew shot 69.
Thompson, the defending champion, was tied for sixth at 3 under. She shot 69. Third-ranked Stacy Lewis, the 2011 winner, also in the group at 3 under after a 69.