Teenagers Lydia Ko and Charley Hull are ready to resume their friendly rivalry when they play together in the first two rounds of the Aberdeen Asset Management Ladies Scottish Open at Dundonald Links in North Ayrshire from Friday.
The World No.2 and 50 respectively, who are promoting the game of golf globally with their strong results on both sides of the Atlantic, will tee off at 12.10pm on Friday in what Ko said will be a ‘tough test’ of golf.
“I like links golf. Without a doubt it’s very difficult and challenging,” said the 18-year-old New Zealander. “I’ll try my best out there, but, you know it’s a pretty tough course. I played nine holes yesterday. It’s not going to be easy – not 10 under par every day! But I think this week will be great preparation for me for Turnberry next week. I’ve never played a Pro-Am in an official tournament, so I think it should be a lot of fun.”
So far, the only time Ko played in Scotland was at the 2013 Ricoh Women’s British Open at St Andrews, where she finished tied for 40th, as the leading amateur with Georgia Hall on six over par.
However, Ko has already won 11 professional tournaments around the world and was the youngest ever winner on the Ladies European Tour when she took the 2013 ISPS HANDA New Zealand Women’s Open in February 2013 at the age of 15 years and nine months.
Before recently being overtaken by Inbee Park, Ko was the youngest ever world No.1 having assumed the position aged 17 for 19 weeks and she has won three professional titles so far this year: the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open, ISPS HANDA New Zealand Women’s Open and Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic presented by CTBC.
Despite being a superstar herself, Ko was star struck when she arrived on Wednesday for the Dunhill Links style tournament, which includes 80 professionals paired with 80 amateur competitors.
“I’ve seen a Hollywood star, Andrew Howard, yeah. I’ve seen him on TV, and to get to see him here is pretty cool,” she said, adding: “I get very awe struck, even when I see PGA Tour players. I was at the US Open last year, and Bill Haas said ‘hello’, and I didn’t know what to do. It was really cool that he knew me.”
Ko has played with last year’s European Order of Merit Winner Charley Hull, 19, a number of times but Hull arguably has the greater links experience, having won a national competition at nearby Turnberry as a nine year old.
“It’s good to be back on a links course. Last time I played links golf was a year ago at Royal Birkdale during the Women’s Open,” said Hull, the 2014 Lalla Meryem Cup winner. “It’s a bit colder than I would like it to be. The course is nice. It’s quite strange though. The greens are very receptive and it’s quite hard to play the bump and run shots from the little run off areas as they are so receptive. It’s tricky. You can’t pitch it 20, 30 yards short and let it run up.”
The first round gets under way at 7.30am on Friday and mainly dry conditions are expected with the possibility of a few stray showers. Wind speeds are expected to decrease to 10-15 miles per hour after a strong breeze on Wednesday and Thursday.