Winning gold medal would be extra special: Ko

Lydia Ko of New Zealand hits a tee shot during practice round for women's Olympic golf competition.
Lydia Ko of New Zealand hits a tee shot during practice round for women's Olympic golf competition.PHOTO: REUTERS

RIO DE JANEIRO • Top-ranked teen Lydia Ko might ruin her game if she wins the first women's Olympic golf title in 116 years, because she says she might never remove her gold medal.

"The Olympics were the biggest goal of mine this year," Ko said on Monday. "If I end up holding the gold medal and standing upon the podium, it will be extra special.

"I don't know if I will ever take that medal off. It will bruise me when I swing with it."

The 19-year-old from New Zealand will be among the top contenders when the second Olympic women's golf tournament begins today at the same Rio course where Britain's Justin Rose captured the men's gold medal on Sunday.

Ko played five holes of the layout while Rose was holding off Sweden's Henrik Stenson for the title and later had her photo taken with Rose and his gold medal.

"To be able to take a photo with the gold medal was special," she said. "Hopefully some of the vibes came off."

Ko won her first Major title at last year's Evian Championship and her second in April at the ANA Inspiration, one of five titles she has won this year.

She is trying to focus on what reaching the podium would mean for her rather than any pressure associated with being world No. 1 at the Olympics.

"If we end up holding a medal, I think that's going to be special," she said. "That's what I think about rather than the pressure on me."

Prior to the start of the women's golf tournament, Ko also watched New Zealand shot putter Val Adams settle for silver as she tried for a third consecutive Olympic crown and attended the swimming competition as well.

"It got me more excited and more motivated to be here," Ko said, adding that she thinks her time in wind-swept courses with few trees back home will serve her well in similar Olympic conditions.

"When the wind gets up, it will be like a British Open," she said.

"The person who can make those creative shots will do well."

Ko was warned that uninitiated fans might try to pick up her golf ball if she hits it into the crowd.

"No one has picked up my ball yet," she said.

"I have had a dog run away with my ball and I got penalised. But I still love dogs."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 17, 2016, with the headline 'Winning gold medal would be extra special: Ko'. Print Edition | Subscribe