Lydia Ko leads the 2016 KPMG Women's PGA Championship through 54 holes, sitting one clear of long-hitting Americans Gerina Piller and Brittany Lincicome.
If Ko can maintain the same edge on Sunday, the 19-year-old Kiwi by way of South Korea will become just the fifth player in LPGA history to win three consecutive majors. It's apparently a fact that Ko, who won The Evian Championship last September to become the youngest modern major winner and the ANA Inspiration in April, had not researched ahead of this week.
“My goal coming into the majors is trying to put myself in good positions,” said Ko after a Saturday 1-under 70 at Sahalee Country Club in Washington.
“If I come into the year saying, 'Hey, I want to win two out of the five majors,' that can be a little unrealistic. Numbers sometimes are just numbers. All you can do is really try your best.”
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A lot of numbers are just numbers, but this one seems to carry a little more weight.
No one in LPGA history has won two majors as quickly as Ko. No one won two in a row at a younger age than her. If she's a winner on Sunday, no one will have won three LPGA majors -- even if there are five now -- in successive fashion sooner than she will have. That's heady stuff.
Add in the company Ko will keep as a player to have won three consecutive majors:
- Babe Zaharias was 39 when she won the three majors played in 1950, the LPGA's first season
- Mickey Wright was 27 when she won her third of four consecutive majors at the 1962 Titleholders Championship (her fourth came in 1962 at the Women's Western Open)
- Pat Bradley won three majors in 1986 -- the ANA Inspiration, this championship when known as the LPGA Championship and the du Maurier Classic, now the Canadian Women's Open -- at 33
- Inbee Park, who won the ANA Inspiration, the first of three consecutive Women's PGA Championships and the U.S. Women's Open at 24 in 2013
On Sunday, Ko will play with Piller and Lincicome, the latter of which Ko played with on Saturday in a round, along with third player Tiffany Joh, that had a low-key feel. Ko and Lincicome might be able to keep that look on the exterior, but both, with Lincicome chasing a third-career major, will have a lot on their minds. Add in that Piller is looking for her first LPGA win in a major, and the easy, breezy Saturday will likely turn into a roller-coaster Sunday.
And, if Ko survives, she'll not only make LPGA history, she may officially take the mantle of the tour from Inbee Park. After winning this championship the last three years, Park played two rounds, missed the cut, still qualified for the LPGA Hall of Fame and is pondering a long layoff to rest her injured thumb...and, hinting at a looming retirement, may never return.