KPMG Women's PGA Championship - Round One
Credit: PGA of America via Getty Images

Lydia Ko thinks she can count on just one hand how many times noted golf instructor Sean Foley has been at an LPGA Tour event.

But Foley, who counts Justin Rose and four-time PGA Championship winner Tiger Woods as past students, is at Aronimink Golf Club this week to work with Ko, and for that, she’s grateful.

Ko, a two-time major champion, shot 2-under 68 in the first round of the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship. She’s just one-shot back of the lead held by Kelly Tan and Brittany Lincicome.

“I think he gives a lot of good vibes just him being here, so I've really enjoyed that, and we've really not done… too many technical things and just continued to do what we've been working on these past few months,” said Ko of what Foley has brought to Aronimink so far this week.

Ko said having Foley on site has been helpful for her to navigate what her misses could be or what her game looks like on the driving range versus the golf course.

“He can see, when I’m under the gun, what my tendencies are,” she said. 

It was a bit of a tale of two nines on Thursday for Ko. She was 3-under on her front side but bogeyed her final hole of the day to shoot 1-over on the back nine.

“I felt like I hit the ball really solid, tried to hit as many fairways and greens as I could,” said Ko. “It was pretty tough out there with it being breezy. I feel like every day, even though the wind might say like 10 or 12 miles an hour, it always feels a little bit higher than that.

“So I tried to play consistent and I feel like I've done that well.”

Ko spent some time on the putting green before speaking to reporters Thursday, as she three-putted the 18th, saying, with a laugh, she stroked her final putt harder than she hit her driver. She said Foley suggested she die her putts into the hole, especially as it gets drier.

“Sometimes you can have a longer second putt because of the harder lip-outs,” said Ko of the tricky Donald Ross-designed greens at Aronimink. “That's something I'm going to try and be focused on, but for me and my game, I'm trying not to overcomplicate things and just go out there and simplify and do my best.”

While Ko hasn’t found the winner’s circle on the LPGA Tour since April 2018 she’s been rounding into form recently.

The former world No.1 – whose best result at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship is a playoff loss to Brooke Henderson in 2016 – finished T2 at the Marathon LPGA Classic presented by Dana (the second event back after the COVID-19 break) and was sixth at the ANA Inspiration last month.

She said she’s getting adjusted to her new routine, as she began working with Foley in July, but things are starting to fall into place now.

“I feel like especially the last five-week stretch kind of gave me the confidence and belief that I'm moving in the right direction,” said Ko.

On Thursday at Aronimink, that direction was right near the top of the leaderboard.

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