Lydia Ko ties record, Morgan Pressel takes lead

Lydia Ko ties record, Morgan Pressel takes lead
Lydia Ko hits her second shot at the par-five ninth hole during the first round of the ANA Inspiration golf tournament on Thursday. (David Cannon / Getty Images)

Lydia Ko was stuck behind a trio of palm trees, too concerned with her slim chance at the green to ponder if this was how she would fall short of history.

Entering the first major of the year, the ANA Inspiration at Mission Hills Country Club, Ko had shot under par in 28 consecutive rounds since November. One more Thursday and the 17-year-old would tie Annika Sorenstam's record of 29, dating to 1992, when records were first kept.


But even Sorenstam did not do it when she was 17.

Ko hovered at even par when she yanked her tee shot behind the trees at No. 7, her third-to-last hole of the round. A bogey would make breaking par very difficult.

So she slung a low, hooking shot that burned past the low-hanging leaves. It skipped in front of the green, then rolled up near the pin.

"There were two gaps," Ko said. "I said I hope I at least have one that I can go through. I said I'm going to try to hit the biggest hook I could. And it would have probably looked really bad, that swing, on camera."

She got her par, and on the next hole got the birdie she needed to tie Sorenstam. She finished with a one-under-par 71, four shots behind first-round leader Morgan Pressel.

Ko is the youngest player, male or female, to be the world's No. 1 golfer. She has never missed an LPGA cut in 48 tournaments.

Not much has slowed her recently, but when Ko started her round on the 10th hole, her play off the tee was erratic.

The previous week, at the Kia Classic, Ko had bogeyed four times the entire tournament. Eight holes in, she already had three.

And her ninth hole, the par-five No. 18, was her most adventurous. Her tee shot found the rough, her second stroke narrowly avoided a fairway bunker and her approach skipped over the green.

Then her chip shot thumped off a palm tree several feet off from where she was aiming.

"Yeah," she said later. "That wasn't good."

Ko recovered for her fourth bogey. Walking off the green, she tossed the ball into a pond.

Afterward, she called the bogey putt a turning point. It settled her down. She made par on the next hole, then birdied the second hole to return to even.

After the par save on the seventh hole (which nearly resulted in a birdie), Ko dropped her tee shot on the par-three eighth within two feet. The birdie moved her to one under with one hole to spare.


With a win here, Ko would become the LPGA's youngest major winner. But on a day when gusty morning winds held down scoring, Pressel came on strong late in the day with her 67.

Pressel has the claim to youngest major winner. She won at Mission Hills in 2007 when she was 18.

Ai Miyazato, another late starter, was one back of the lead. Lexi Thompson, 20, the defending champion, shot even par. Last year's runner-up, Michelle Wie, another morning starter, shot a one-over 71.

Ko would say later that she wasn't thinking about the record during the round. She said she was preoccupied with scrambling out of the rough. She bogeyed four holes — all on the back nine — and birdied five.

"I decided to have both today, quite a few of them," she said. "But lucky I had more birdies than bogeys."