By Josh Thomson
HARRISON – Lydia Ko arrived in Westchester poised, it seemed, to win her first career major. Instead, she’s headed home early.
The world’s top-ranked female struggled to a 40 on her back nine Friday to shoot a 76, leaving her 2-over for the tournament and one shot off the cut line.
Ko, who turned 18 in April, entered the week having made 53 of 53 cuts to start her LPGA career. She leads the LPGA money list, points list and ranked third on tour in scoring average.
“The front nine was OK. I just made a double (on No. 2, her 11th hole) and just couldn’t get anything turned around,” Ko said. “They are one of the tougher holes you play. I just kind of made bogey after bogey and when you do that, it’s not great.”
Ko made a putter change entering the week, but did not blame her poor finish on the switch.
“I missed a lot of nine-footers today,” she said. “They weren’t good, but I feel like I made a good putter change. I know I holed a lot of good putts yesterday, so I’m glad that I’ve got a putter in my hand where I’m confident with it.”
Ko opened with a 1-under 72 on Thursday. She assessed herself with a one-stroke penalty during the round when her ball moved on the green after she had addressed it.
Injury-prone Wie debuts new swing: Michelle Wie is just 25, but nagging injuries finally have the former teen prodigy heeding decade-old advice from swing coach David Ledbetter.
The reigning U.S. Women’s Open champ has debuted a new swing at this week’s KPMG Women’s PGA Championship. She narrowed her stance by half to restrict the contortion on her backswing, hoping it will lead to better health going forward.
Wie has been visibly hobbled on the course by left hip bursitis. The injury already caused her to miss a cut and withdraw from two tournaments in the last month. She needed a birdie at 18 Friday to make the cut on the number at 1-over.
“Not as limber as what I used to be is what everyone is telling me,” Wie said. “I think it’s kind of like a life swing kind of change, (a) tune-up, to accommodate my aging body, so to speak.”
Teen still among leaders: Canadian teen Brooke Henderson remained in contention after an eventful even-par 73. The 17-year old matched her five bogeys with five birdies to remain at 6-under, just two behind leader Sei Young Kim.
“I’ll learn from it and pay attention a little bit more to the course conditions leading into tomorrow and try to get a good game plan,” she said.