Hall of Fame pressure fuelled poor season: Ko

Lydia Ko.
Photo: photosport

New Zealand golfer Lydia Ko admits self-imposed pressure played a part in a gloomy season which has ended prematurely.

Ko won’t be in the field to defend her title at the LPGA’s season-finale CME Group Tour Championship in Florida this week, having failed to place in the top-60 in the year-long points race.

It sums up a season of struggle for the long-time world No.1, who failed to add to her 19 career tour wins and has only just snuck inside the top-100 players who keep their full cards next year.

NAPLES, FLORIDA - NOVEMBER 20: Lydia Ko of New Zealand poses for a photo with the Vare Trophy, the Rolex Player of the Year trophy and the CME Globe trophy after winning the CME Group Tour Championship at Tiburon Golf Club on November 20, 2022 in Naples, Florida.   Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images/AFP (Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP)

Photo: AFP

Ko, 26, has long stated that she doesn’t intend to play past the age of 30 but one of her targets before retiring was to qualify for the LPGA Hall of Fame.

She sits two points from the 27 needed, meaning she needs another major title or two regular tournament wins to achieve her goal.

In an interview with Golfweek, she admits the Hall of Fame entry played on her mind and created pressure that affected her form.

“I think so. That would be a lie, I think, if you said no,” she said before finding solace in her broader career

“No matter what’s happened this year, obviously, it doesn’t summarise what’s happened in the past nine years.”

Ko says retirement could even come before 30, although she is committed to playing at next year’s Paris Olympics, hoping to add silver and bronze medals won in Rio and Tokyo.

Lydia Ko  during the final round of the Palos Verdes Championship Presented by Bank of America at Palos Verdes Golf Club on May 01, 2022 in California.

Lydia Ko during the final round of the Palos Verdes Championship Presented by Bank of America at Palos Verdes Golf Club on May 01, 2022 in California.
Photo: AFP

As for what’s next, she’ll have decided on her future pathway long before hanging up her putter.

Now married and living in California, she says her only concrete plan is to finish a degree in psychology and she won’t rule out studying another subject.

“I think some of my studies, I could actually like completely divert into like something that I’m intrigued about more so than I’m going to make a business out of it,” she said, before indicating that when the golf ends, she won’t be hanging around on a part-time basis.

“If I’m doing it,” she said, “I want to do it properly. And I want to do it without regrets.”

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