RANCHO MIRAGE, California (REUTERS) - New Zealand's Lydia Ko has been exposed to increased expectation and much bigger crowds since becoming world number one but, so far, the 17-year-old is handling it all with remarkable poise.
This week, the South Korea-born golfing prodigy heads into the first women's major of the season with a chance to break Annika Sorenstam's run of 29 consecutive rounds under par on the LPGA Tour. Ko has strung together 28 sub-par rounds, and says she plans to "have fun" while bidding to break Sorenstam's record at Misson Hills Country Club where her aim is simply to play well.
"Obviously because I'm so close (to Sorenstam's record), it will be at the back of my mind because there's been so much talk about it," Ko told reporters on Wednesday while preparing for the ANA Inspiration, an event previously called the Kraft Nabisco Championship.
"I'm sure that thought is going to come up within those 18 holes, but I'm just going to try and have fun. I'm going to be concentrating on that moment. At the end of the day, my goal is to try and play well for this week. If I break the record or if I tie it or if I don't break it, I'm just so happy that I can get so close to it."
The richly talented New Zealander, who has already landed six LPGA Tour titles, became the youngest golfer to hold top spot in the world rankings by tying for second place at the LPGA's season-opening event in January.
Asked what had been the biggest adjustment for her since she took over at the top, Ko replied: "Media attention, and also bigger crowds.
"But the best part was me playing the New Zealand Open, going in front of the home crowd and being world No. 1 at that time. That was really cool because I don't get to go home much, and I was able to share that with people back home."
Ko, who won the Women's Australian Open in February, said she tried to remain as unflappable as possible out on the course by literally laughing off any low moment.
"It might be a little idiotic, but when I make a very stupid bogey, I tend to laugh because it's like so funny that it's so dumb," she grinned. "I just try and stay calm. When I overcomplicate things, I don't play good, so I'm trying to simplify things."