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Coping with Aussie Open winds is vital: Ko

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 15/02/2017 Steve Larkin

World No.1 women's golfer Lydia Ko says embracing the wind, rather than fighting it, is vital to winning the Australian Open at Royal Adelaide.

Stiff winds are predicted throughout the tournament starting on Thursday, making a challenging course even more difficult.

Asked what would be key to winning, Ko was adamant.

"To be smart and to be able to use the wind and not try to fight it," she said.

"Keeping it on the fairways is huge here because it's not very friendly outside the short stuff."

Ko said winds switched almost 90 degrees from one day to the next during the lead-in to the event.

"Today (Wednesday) was on the northerly side and, the past few days, it has been on the south - the course plays totally different," she said.

"This direction makes the par-fives a little shorter, maybe more reachable. The other way, the par-fours may not play as long.

"The 18th is a key example, where I hit an eight-iron onto the green the first time I played and, today, I was hitting a knock-down five-iron.

"You need to be wise. And sometimes a driver isn't necessarily the club to hit off the tees."

The 19-year-old New Zealander is favourite to win her second Australian Open against challengers including world No.2 Ariya Jutanugarn, who also cites handling the wind as crucial to success.

"If the wind picks up, it's going to be so hard," Jutanugarn said.

"It is going to be pretty tough because the greens are really small and they're really, really firm.

"I really have to be patient a lot because the course is hard."

World No.17 Minjee Lee is the highest-ranked Australian in a field also featuring compatriots Karrie Webb, who is seeking a sixth national crown, and Su Oh.

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