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Ko Has Chance to Become No. 1 this Week


Currently ranked No. 2 in the Rolex Rankings, New Zealand's Lydia Ko has an opportunity to supplant Stacy Lewis in the top position with a victory in the Wegman's LPGA Championship, a major that starts Thursday at Monroe Golf Club in Pittsford, N.Y.

If that indeed occurs, the 17-year-old will become the youngest major winner and the youngest player to ever top the world rankings.

Ko, who won two straight Canadian Women's Opens in 2012 and '13 as an amateur, has added two more victories to her impressive resume. Those both came after she turned pro this year, the Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic in April - by a stroke over Lewis, and the Marathon Classic in July.

In just nine months as a touring pro, she's logged eight top-10 finishes in 2014 en route to earning over $1 million.

Ko, who repeatedly has said she just wants to have fun playing golf and doesn't worry about individual accomplishments and records, professed ignorance over her possible ascension to No. 1. "I didn't really realize [about the No 1 ranking] until you just mentioned it, but to me I think winning would be great, but that's in a couple days' time, and I'm just going to take it day by day," she told reporters Tuesday at Monroe Golf Club.

"If it goes my way, great, and then I become world No 1, it's even better. But I'm not going to think about it. I'm just going to try and enjoy it and try to think of it as a normal, another LPGA event. It's been seven, eight months [on tour], and I think I've aged more than I normally have in that period of time.

"I didn't really have a position or a ranking goal. My biggest thing was just to have fun on the tour and also learn what it is about the tour and learn more about the tour, learn about the sponsors and the players. I think that was one of the biggest things for me, and I think that's the most important thing in a rookie year," she added.

"Playing well and performing well is great, but there are some other aspects to it, and I've been having fun and learning things along the way. It's been good. I've enjoyed my time on tour. The time has gone really fast. A lot of tournaments, over half has gone by, and I can't really believe it. I wouldn't have imagined myself to be playing full-time on the tour the same time last year."

Ko will have a front-row seat to see how Lewis is playing this as she'll be paired with the 29-year-old American - along with Sweden's Anna Nordqvist - in the first two rounds of the LPGA Championship.

Here's what Ko else had to tell reporters during her sit-down with the media on Tuesday.

MODERATOR: Welcome, everybody, to the pressroom here at the Wegmans LPGA Championship. A great pleasure to have the No.2 ranked playing in the Rolex Women's World Rankings, Lydia Ko is here. A rookie season, officially, that feels anything but a rookie season. Let's get your thoughts on your year thus far and then we'll segue in and talk a little bit about the golf course.

LYDIA KO: I know. It's been seven, eight months, and I think I've aged more than I normally have in that period of time. No, I've enjoyed my time on the Tour. The time has gone really fast. A lot of tournaments, over half has gone by, and I can't really believe it. I wouldn't have imagined myself to be playing full time on the Tour the same time last year.

MODERATOR: When you say the year has gone by fast, obviously we know how many months have gone by. Has it been fast for you mentally, the tournaments just keep coming so quickly? Have you been able to relax? How has that been for you, what type of adjustment?

LYDIA KO: Well, like every week, the week itself, it feels like it goes slow, like day by day we've got practice rounds, pro ams, and you're kind of into the tournament. But when I look back, I've already played this many tournaments. In that kind of sense, at the time I think having fun has made it much easier, especially when I've got three or four weeks in a row, the second and the third weeks kind of go faster because you kind of get in on a Monday and start doing proper practice on Tuesday.

MODERATOR: Do you feel like the schedule as you've laid it out thus far has been good for you?

LYDIA KO: I think we've balanced it out pretty well. I haven't overdone myself, and I've had plenty of rest in the off weeks. I really enjoyed my two weeks off after my win in San Francisco and also after Toledo. I think schedule wise, I've been trying to balance it out, and I have some rest and go do some fun things.

MODERATOR: The potential fallout from this week, I say fallout, it could be great for you; you've had a terrific season already with two wins and eight top 10s, but this week if you were to win, you could move to No.1 in the rankings. How much have you thought about that?

LYDIA KO: I didn't really realize until you just mentioned it, but to me I think winning would be great, but that's in a couple days' time, and I'm just going to take it day by day. If it goes my way, great, and then I become world No.1, it's even better. But I'm not going to think about it. I'm just going to try and enjoy it and try to think of it as a normal, another LPGA event.

MODERATOR: What's been the most positive thing for you, biggest learning experience this year in your rookie season?

LYDIA KO: Biggest thing, I think just being like what it's like to be a Tour player, what it's like to, I guess, get away from wherever you're living. You're out here full time, you're out with sponsors and other players. I guess it's pretty much a full time job in that sense, and to kind of enjoy it at the same time and try to balance it out, I mean, yeah, I think that's the biggest thing for me. Just being able to learn how to balance things and learn that perspective of being a Tour player.

MODERATOR: Has the business aspect of having your name on your bag and logos on your hat and shirt, etcetera, has the business aspect of being a professional golfer been at times difficult for you, the pro ams and the sponsors and that aspect of it?

LYDIA KO: I think all of that, it just comes with being a Tour player. I actually enjoy playing pro ams. You get to meet different people from different sponsors, and along the way - I think it's a cool experience. You get to meet people that you don't normally get to interact with, these business people, and to do that during golf, that's a total different experience.

Q. Outside of golf, what's the coolest thing you've done this year as a Tour player?

LYDIA KO: I went to Universal Studios in my off week a couple weeks ago with Amy Yang, Vicky Hurst and Sue Kim. We had some fun. I'm not really good with rides, so we had to go to the studios where it was a lot of the motion simulators, but it was cool. We knocked out like a normal teenager doing some things on a spring break.

Q. Did anyone recognize you girls?

LYDIA KO: No, but I put a photo of us up on Instagram, and people said, we saw you guys, and are you in Singapore Universal Studios and everything. No, we're in the States still. But yeah, nobody went up and said hi, but we got some comments that they did see us there.

Q. Favorite ride was what at Universal Studios?

LYDIA KO: Definitely the Minion ride. I've got Minion all over my golf bag. I've got a head cover, a little key ring, and even my tee bag is full of Minions. It was definitely my favorite.

Q. No issues with motion sickness or anything like that? You're really good with roller coasters and every kind of thing?

LYDIA KO: Like some of the stuff I'm okay at. I'm worse with roller coasters and that kind of thing, so I stayed away from that one. But to my surprise, the Simpsons ride was where we kind of felt sick, and we just had lunch before that.

Q. Talk about this golf course, what stands out about it for you.

LYDIA KO: It kind of in a way feels similar to Locust Hill with the rough being similar, but it kind of feels the same, but then it kind of feels like a totally different course. Here, especially with it being a little wet today, I had to hit a lot of hybrids, and for the first time I actually hit an iron on hole 7, and that was my 6 iron. I think the course is playing I guess a little on the longer side, especially for it being wet after the rain today.

Q. You have a number of majors under your belt that you've gone through, you've felt the experience. Have you felt some extra anticipation coming into this now that you are No. 2?

LYDIA KO: You know, I mean, it's been a really great experience playing these different types of majors. I was fortunate enough to play this major last year, and I really had fun playing the Wegmans LPGA Classic. I mean, every major is different in its own way, and it's always exciting because we all prepare for all the majors. To me I didn't perform that well when I thought, oh, my God, it's a major, you need to play well. So I'm going to try to think of it as just another tournament, and hopefully I'll hit some good shots and roll in some good putts.

Q. Did you feel like you put too much pressure on yourself at Pinehurst? Was that part of the deal?

LYDIA KO: I think apart from the last nine of the first day, I played really solid rounds at the U.S. Open, and I really had fun. In the end I think I finished tied for 15th or something, and that's my second best finish at a major. At a course like that, I was pretty happy with the way I finished. At the end of the day, we always go, oh, I wish I'd have done this better and this better, but overall experience I really enjoyed, and I think I played pretty good.

Q. You mentioned playing here last year. You were playing an as amateur, playing for no money. Can you fathom what's happened in the last year? Can you put into words what's happened for you in the last year since you were here last year?

LYDIA KO: Yeah, like even at that time I was asked when are you going to turn pro. That was probably one of the big questions that I got asked pretty much every time a camera was up in my face. Since then I guess I turned pro, and I'm playing full time on the Tour. Yeah, it's been a pretty surreal moment. I can't believe already a year has gone by since then.

Q. Did you get advice from several people before this year began, and if so, is there anything that stood out to you that you've kind of carried through this rookie season that you've kept reminding yourself, I need to do this, I promised myself I would do this my rookie year?

LYDIA KO: I think a lot of people told me to balance it out, never overdo it. There's 33 events this year, and I don't need to play all of them. They wanted me to kind of balance everything out so that I had fun on the Tour and I could, I guess, play for a longer period of time. That's why golf is so great, that you can play when you're 40, 50, etc. I think that was the biggest advice, and that's how we've been managing my schedule, so that I wouldn't overdo it, but at the same time get enough experience.

Q. Can you talk about what your relationship has been like with David over the last year and how that's been working with him, David Leadbetter?

LYDIA KO: Yeah, it's just been really good, I guess. We've been changing a little bit of the swing, but it's been very minor changes. To me it's been a really good change, and I've been working hard with Sean and David. I've been looking at my swing, and I like how it's becoming. I mean, I can never say I'm going to end up having a perfect swing. I try to have my rhythm and then make it a little better. Yeah, it's been going good, and they're here this week, and they can help me with little things. Yeah, I've really enjoyed working with Sean and David.

Q. Have you already achieved whatever goal it was you set out for yourself this year?

LYDIA KO: Yeah. I didn't really have a position or a ranking goal. My biggest thing was just to have fun on the Tour and also learn what it is about the Tour and learn more about the Tour, learn about the sponsors and the players. I think that was one of the biggest things for me, and I think that's the most important thing in a rookie year. Playing well and performing well is great, but there are some other aspects to it, and I've been having fun and learning things along the way. It's been good.

Q. Two majors left, including this week, and several big events overseas in Asia, many more on the schedule. This year will be an ultimate success for you if you accomplish what the rest of the way?

LYDIA KO: I haven't really thought about it, but I think it would be an achievement, it would be a success if I just keep enjoying it and go out there every week feeling fresh and feeling ready and feeling prepared that I'll be able to hold the trophy at the end of each week.

The transcript for the above interview is courtesy of ASAP Sports.