By Andrew Both
(Reuters) - An astonishingly consistent game that relies more on pinpoint accuracy than power has been the key to Lydia Ko's remarkable rise to the top of the women's world rankings, says the European number one.
The rapid rise of the South Korean-born New Zealander has been achieved the old fashioned way, by keeping mistakes to an absolute minimum rather than by overpowering courses or hitting spectacular recovery shots.
"I've played quite a few times with Lydia. She just hits it dead straight every time and holes a few putts," fellow LPGA player Charley Hull told Reuters recently at Turnberry, site of the July. 30-Aug. 2 Ricoh Women's British Open. "She doesn't make the silly mistakes. She's very mature for her age."
Ko, who turned 18 last week, earlier this year became the youngest player of either sex to hold the number one ranking. Last Sunday she notched her seventh LPGA victory when she won the Swinging Skirts Classic in San Francisco.
While the most recent trio of world number ones in the men's game - Rory McIlroy, Adam Scott and Tiger Woods - have dominated by crushing the ball off the tee and setting up numerous birdie opportunities, Ko seems more of a throwback to the days of Nick Faldo, who won six majors by relentlessly eliminating mistakes.
Almost as impressive as Ko's seven LPGA wins is the fact she has never missed a cut in 50 LPGA starts.
She made only four bogeys in the first three rounds last week to stay in contention, before surging to victory with an unusually topsy-turvy round that included four bogeys.
Englishwoman Hull, at only 19, is barely a year older than Ko, who heads the field for the LPGA's North Texas Shootout starting on Thursday.
And while Ko has already compiled a magnificent professional resume, Hull's record is not too shabby. She topped the Ladies European Tour Order of Merit last year and is third on this year's money list after top-10 finishes in four starts.
She has some way to go to catch Ko, but hits the ball further. Her potential is undoubted, if only she can harness that power while emulating Ko's accuracy.
And what can she learn from watching Ko?
"How straight she hits it," said Hull. "I didn’t hit it very straight towards the end of last year but now I’m hitting it straight again, which is good."
(Editing by Frank Pingue)