Lydia Ko a knockout

Lydia Ko shot a final-round 65 on Saturday to finish an incredible 28-under 260. Photo Radio NZ. 

After three years in Limbo, Lydia Ko is back in golf heaven as a LPGA champion, having won the Lotte championship in Hawaii in a record 28-under with rounds of 67, 63, 65, 65.

It couldn’t have happened to a nicer young lady who will turn 24 this week after having set the golfing world alight as a child prodigy who went on to win 15 LPGA titles, including two majors, before her latest triumph.

Significantly, 10 of her first 14 LPGA titles, including the two majors, was with Australian Jason Hamilton as her caddie.

There have been many since, including changes of coaches and clubs for a perfectionist who sought to lengthen her drive but lost her putting touch.

Some people, including former coaches, blamed her parents for interfering. However, Lydia stayed loyal to them and remains so.

The difference appears to be current coach Sean Foley, former mentor of Tiger Woods, who knows a thing or two about golf. However, Lydia believes the greatest change Foley made was to unclutter her mind and simplify her thinking.

Having finished runner-up in the ABA championship with a final round 62 prior to her Lotte triumph in Hawaii, Lydia showed her game was on song.

Hopefully it will remain so because it was her prodigious talent as a youngster that lured so many of us towards ladies golf.

It’s a sport which in more recent years has been dominated by South Koreans from the country where Lydia was born before coming to New Zealand at an early age with her family. Ever since, she has remained proud to be called Kiwi Ko and remains one of this country’s favourite sportspeople.

Having passed $11.5 million in career earnings despite her lean trot, the future looks bright despite the growing depth of talent that confronts her.

Her drive has lengthened, her wedge play is near perfect and the hesitancy has disappeared from her putting. She also appears to have a compatible relationship and trust with her latest caddie.

At world No 11 before this last success, the aim is for her to return to her former status as world No 1 or Queen of the Green. Hopefully the future will hold more highs than lows although golf can swiftly switch to Russian Roulette if gremlins are allowed to creep into the mind.

Meanwhile British and Irish Lions rugby coach Warren Gatland must be wondering whether he deserves to get his job back as Super Rugby Aotearoa Chiefs mentor following the success of his replacement Clayton McMillan who has signed for the next two years as his assistant.

Having lost the first two games of the 2021 season, the Chiefs under McMillan have won four straight, including last weekend’s 26-25 thriller against a Crusaders team no longer bearing their invincible shields.

With Damian McKenzie again the match-winner kicking the deciding goal after moving the ball swiftly and astutely from first-five, some of the statistics make interesting reading.

Such was the Chiefs control of possession that they made just 81 tackles compared with the Crusaders 180 and missed 12 compared with 31.

They also won possession and territory 57-43, won line breaks 6-2 and rucks and mauls by a staggering 115-72.

With No 8 Luke Jacobson outstanding all season, it was good to see Lachlan Boshier back in action.

  • Ivan Agnew is an award-winning sports writer