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‘I HOPE TO PUT MYSELF MORE IN CONTENTION’: Lydia KO sets sights on 2023 AIG Women’s Open

Image credit: The R&A

Lydia Ko expects a new venue for the AIG Women’s Open to deliver an exciting championship as she goes in search of a third major title.

Walton Heath is hosting the world’s best players this week for the first time since the Championship was established in 1976.

With the renowned Surrey venue new to a number of players, Ko believes the chase for the prestigious title could be contested by a number of different players among the 144 international field.

The 26-year-old New Zealander, who shot to prominence when she won the Evian Championship in 2015 and the Chevron Championship in 2016, said: “Sometimes when you go to a place like, let's say, Evian, I know that I've won there before and I've got memories to draw on, whether it's good or bad, but with the AIG Women's Open it's like a new experience every time.

“So, this week, nobody really has a huge advantage in knowing the golf course really well. I'm sure some of the girls that are from England or this area might have played here a couple more times, but because it is new, I think it's like a fresh new book for everyone. So it just feels like it's a very level playing field.

“I think this is a very different style of golf course than any of the other AIG Women's Opens that I've played. So I think it's going to potentially draw different names on the leaderboard to what we may be used to in previous years – and I'm hoping to be in the mix.”

Ko, who won three times on the LPGA Tour last year and sits fifth on the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings, finished third in the 2015 staging of the AIG Women’s Open.

“I think I've only played at the AIG Women's Open well twice,” added Ko, who is paired with Nelly Korda and Charley Hull for the first two rounds. “I hope to put myself more in contention. There's something about this Championship that I think requires maybe a little more creativity and shots that you we might not play at any other events.

“I think there's that different expertise you're required to play. I think it's going to be a fun week, a tricky week, but I'm just trying to stay patient out there and try to play the best golf I can.”

The defending champion from South Africa, Ashleigh Buhai, is playing with Brooke Henderson and Rose Zhang – winner of last year’s Smyth Salver for leading amateur – in the opening two rounds. Celine Boutier – chasing a third straight win after winning the Amundi Evian Championship and Freed Group Women’s Scottish Open – is joined by one of the home hopefuls, Georgia Hall, and Atthaya Thitikul for the first 36 holes.