It was business as usual when then world No. 1 Lydia Ko took a share of sixth in her first start of the season.
But it’s been anything but since then for the Kiwi golfer who lit up the LPGA Tour and won multiple trophies in 2022.
In fact, fresh off missing the cut at the final women’s championship of the year, Ko just recorded an unwelcome first in her glittering career, which put her within two points of making the Hall of Fame.
Here’s a look at Ko’s disappointing season, so far, by the numbers.
Nanda. For the first time in Ko’s storied career, the 26-year-old did not finish in the top-10 at any of the tour’s five majors.
Ko, whose more than seven-year major drought rivals Rory McIlroy’s, fell short at last week’s Women’s Open and the Chevron Championship in April, missing the cut at both.
The two-time major winner wasn’t much better at the Evian Championship (tied for 61st) and the Women’s PGA Championship (tied for 57th), leaving her share of 33rd at the US Open the pick of an extremely underwhelming team.
Ko had finished in the top-10 of a major every year for the past 10 years, even as a teenage amateur.
Ko picked up where she left off last year by opening the season with a top-10 finish, but, believe it or not, hasn’t finished better than 31st since.
A top-10 finish – recorded at the Honda LPGA Thailand in February – through 12 tournaments pales in comparison to last season, when Ko finished in the top-10 in 14 of 22 tour starts.
He finished no worse than a tie for 46th in 2022.
Like Netflix Full Swing he reminded viewers hundreds of times during his first season, missing the cut means he won’t eat.
Ko’s three missed cuts this season – that’s a 25% rate – are more than the two she’s missed in the last three seasons combined.
She also sat out the weekend three times during the 2017 and 2019 seasons, but has never missed four cuts during an LPGA Tour season.
Ko’s placement is certainly not the problem, far from it.
She is ranked fourth on tour with 28.81 shots per round, down slightly from last year (28.61), when she was second behind South Korea’s Yaeeun Hong (28.46).
However, her drop in hitting greens in regulation is telling.
Ranked 133rd in the league, Kos’ strike rate of 62.7% is significantly lower than last year (72.9%), when they were ranked 26th.
While Ko has never been great, his average drive distance (253.42 yards) is also down slightly from 2022 (255.34) and his drive accuracy has dropped from 66.6% to 60.2%.
Having hit 252 of 584 fairways so far this season, he is tied for 154th on the tour, ahead of just eight players.
Unsurprisingly, Ko’s struggles have seen her fall five places from the world No. 1 ranking she reclaimed last November.
Ko dropped to No. 2 on April 24 and dropped to No. 6 after missing the cut at last week’s Women’s Open at Walton Health.
American Lilia Vu, who last week came through to win her second major (both this year), is the new No 1, ahead of Nelly Korda and Jin Young Ko.
Ko’s hot scoring over the past two years has earned her the Vare Trophy, awarded to the player with the best scoring average on tour.
However, Ko’s average rating of 71.79 this season is well up from 2022 (68.98) and 2021 (69.32), leaving her 66th.
South Korea’s Hyo Koo Kim (69,686) is on top and the only player with an average below 70.
A year after being crowned Race to the CME Globe Champion for the third time, Ko is ranked 82nd in the season-long points competition.
Her 203,450 points are dwarfed by the 2380,550 of France and leader Celine Boutier.
That’s how much US dollars (NZ$328,000) Ko has banked this year.
Seems a bit fair considering her struggles. But that’s peanuts compared to the whopping $4.3 million she earned during her epic 2022 season, which she capped by snaring the biggest winner’s prize ($2 million) in women’s golf history.
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