Lydia Ko confident ahead of New Zealand Open

Lydia Ko, of New Zealand, follows her ball after playing on the 12th hole during the first round of the Evian Championship women's golf tournament in Evian, eastern France, Friday, Sept. 15, 2017. (Laurent Cipriani/AP)

WELLINGTON, New Zealand — Former world No. 1 Lydia Ko says her confidence is rising as she prepares to play in the New Zealand Open next week in front of her home gallery, near the end of a lacklustre year.

Ko says she has taken faith from her third-place finish last week at the Evian Championship, the season’s final major. Ko bogeyed the final hole to miss a place in a playoff as she chased her first tournament victory in 14 months.

Despite having nine top-10 finishes in 20 starts, Ko has had a difficult 2017 after making changes to her swing and changing her clubs, coach, and caddie.

But Ko believes she is coming into form in time for her national open, which will be a U.S. LPGA Tour event for the first time.

She said in Auckland on Thursday that her apparent loss of form had been over-stated because expectations had been set too high after her long reign as world No. 1.

"I’ve been very fortunate about the things that have happened in my career so far, it’s almost like the expectation level became so high from everyone," Ko said. "Every player has their ups and downs and you just have to fight through it, stay positive and work hard, so that’s what I’m going to continue to do."

Ko said the tour has become increasingly competitive with 20 different winners in 26 tournaments this season. The last 10 majors have had 10 different winners and Ko will be joined by seven major winners in the New Zealand Open at Auckland’s Windross Farm course.

"The LPGA has so much talent right now that it’s tough to win, you’ve just got to keep fighting," Ko said. "Everyone’s so incredibly talented and all the players work so hard and that’s shown by their results. We all sort of motivate each other and that way it improves all of us."

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