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Ko relishes major return to California

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 6/07/2016
Lydia Ko, of New Zealand, watches her tee shot on the second hole during the final round of the LPGA Tour ANA Inspiration golf tournament at Mission Hills Country Club. © AP Photo/Gregory Bull Lydia Ko, of New Zealand, watches her tee shot on the second hole during the final round of the LPGA Tour ANA Inspiration golf tournament at Mission Hills Country Club.

Lydia Ko hopes shifting the US Women's Open to California can end a poor record at the tournament by her lofty standards.

New Zealander Ko tees off at the year's third major on Thursday alongside two of the nearest chasers for her world No.1 ranking - second-ranked Canadian Brooke Henderson and fourth-ranked American Lexi Thompson.

She is thankful organisers have moved the tournament to CordeValle Golf Club in San Jose, California for the first time in 34 years.

Two of her three wins this year have come in the golden state - her second major crown at the ANA Inspiration in April and her last-start victory at the NW Arkansas Championship a fortnight ago.

Six of her 13 career LPGA wins have come on the west coast of the USA or in Canada, which she attributes to the mountainous topography of her homeland.

"It reminds me of New Zealand," she told reporters.

"When you go to places that aren't home but feel a lot like home, it makes a difference."

Ko has failed to finish in the top-10 at four previous US Women's Open appearances but will be buoyed by an improving record there. Her finishes, in order, are 39th, 36th, 15th and 12th.

Henderson, a year younger than Ko at 18, denied the Kiwi a third successive major title in a play-off at last month's Women's PGA Championship in Washington.

She is coming off victory at last week's Portland Classic and threatens to leapfrog Ko as the LPGA Tour's points leader if successful this week.

"Knowing that I can win a major championship, was definitely a huge momentum changer," Henderson said.

"And then coming off a win in Portland, I think it really is going to give me a lot of confidence."

In a rarity, Ko is joined in the field this week by a second Kiwi.

US-based world No.437 Liv Cheng booked her maiden major appearance through a qualifying event in Texas in May.

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