AIG Women’s Open: Lydia Ko benefits from work with Sean Foley

Former world No 1 Lydia Ko believes she is reaping the rewards of her work with new swing coach Sean Foley after moving into contention at the AIG Women’s Open.

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Ko made the switch during golf’s coronavirus enforced shutdown, one of several coach changes in recent seasons, after registering just one LPGA Tour victory in the previous four years and dropping outside the world’s top 50.

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The New Zealander registered a tied-28th finish at the LPGA Drive On Championship and squandered a five-shot lead over the closing six holes at the Marathon LPGA Classic, ending tied-second, before claiming a share of 12th spot at the ASI Scottish Open last week.

Ko then followed an opening-round 72 at Royal Troon with a level-par 71 in tough conditions on Friday, where rain and strong wind made scoring extremely difficult, leaving the 15-time LPGA Tour winner heading into the weekend just two strokes off the lead.

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“I feel like every competitive round I get in, there’s a bit more confidence that builds in,” Ko said. “The more times I put myself in contention or in a good position it gives me confidence about my game.

“Sean [Foley] has been trying to get me to swing aggressively and freely and I feel like I hit it better that way. Sometimes it’s easier said than done, but I’ve just got to go out there and not worry about it and just believe in myself.

“I feel like I played really solid. Nice to have a birdie coming down on the back nine to finish level-par but it’s super tough out there, so patience is going to be very important for me on the weekend.”

Seven-time major champion Inbee Park, the Women’s Open champion in 2015, is five strokes off the pace at the halfway stage after being the only player to shoot in the 60s during the morning wave.

Park birdied the sixth hole and cancelled out a bogey at the ninth by picking up a shot at the par-four next, before birdieing the last to close a two-under 69 and move to four over for the tournament.

“It was pretty crazy out there yesterday and today,” Park said. “It was the toughest conditions I’ve ever played and obviously today was pretty tough in the morning with the wind and the rain.

“I was just trying to make pars and the par is really tough out there. Then I kind of learned a little bit from yesterday, I didn’t play as well as I wanted to play, but I just kept telling myself that you can never give up on these kind of conditions.

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