Lydia Ko has made the resolution to “play more aggressively” – but is wondering how aggressive you can be when tackling the “beasts” of Carnoustie.
The 24-year-old from New Zealand slashed her odds for the AIG Women’s Open this week with her last two performances – a bronze medal at the Olympics and a final round 63 in the Trust Golf Women’s Scottish Open to finish second behind Ryann O’Toole.
Those came from a slight change in philosophy, but is a more conservative approach needed at one of the most feared finishes in all of golf?
‘There’s that creek – there’s two!’
— AIG Women’s Open (@AIGWomensOpen) August 16, 2021
“17 is a beast,” said Lydia. “18 is also a beast. 17, there’s that creek (burn) – there’s two! And it’s a long hole itself.
“I hit a hybrid off the tee and then a 5-wood for the second shot. It’s pretty rare that you would hit a longer club for your second shot into a par 4 compared to the club off the tee.
“I think the majority of the field will play it that way. It’s not like it’s just playing long for a certain type of player. It’s definitely a unique hole.”
18 played downwind for the first two days of practice, and while it’s not as benign a test as it was for the last visit of the Women’s Open in 2011, that makes all the difference.
“I think if you hit a really good drive down there, I think you’re able to go for birdies,” added Ko. “Especially around this golf course, the tee shot is going to be so important to keep it in the fairway.
“The more times you keep it in the fairway, the more chances you’ve got and the fewer bigger numbers you’re able to make.”
‘Dumbarnie is a very different golf course to here’
In Tokyo, the special circumstances changed her attitude for that week and she stuck to that at Dumbarnie last week.
“The mindset at the Olympics was to play a little bit more aggressively, with only three medalists,” she said. “And I liked that, so I continued that when I played last week.
“But while Dumbarnie was great and a really good lead-up for this week, it’s also a very different type of golf course to here.
“So I’m just trying to stay in that kind of strategy of playing aggressively. But at the same time if I am out of position, make sure that I’m not making careless mistakes.
“I’m a little longer off the tee than I was I think a couple years ago. So that obviously makes it a little bit different to play.”
‘I’ve heard a lot about this place’
A two-time Major Champion, and now a two-time Olympic medallist, Lydia Ko is truly back amongst the big time.
Can the New Zealander better her best finish of third in the #AIGWO this year?
— AIG Women’s Open (@AIGWomensOpen) August 9, 2021
Lydia’s first Women’s Open was in 2012 – when she was just 14 – one year after Carnoustie’s last time as host.
“I really wanted to play this course because of that. This might be the trickiest British Open I’ve played yet,” she added.
“I’ve heard a lot about this place. I think you have to be strategic around here. Stay out of the bunkers, but I think that’s the case at pretty much every links golf we play.
“The wind direction can make it feel like a totally different golf course. But we’re all playing the same, so for me it’s just being focused. How can I take advantage of some of the shorter holes and how to play some of the tougher ones.
“Just making sure that I’m playing smart. Par or sometimes even bogey is not the end of the world here.”