Lydia Ko learning to enjoy her No. 1 world ranking

Lydia Ko has quickly become the world's most dominant women's golfer.

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The day Lydia Ko rose to No. 1 in the world, she was a bit “nonplussed” about the honor, according to swing coach David Leadbetter.

“She was more upset she didn’t win the tournament (in Ocala) than happy that she was No. 1,” Leadbetter said. Ko lost her footing in a bunker on the 71st hole at the inaugural Coates Golf Championship and mishit a hybrid. In hindsight, Ko, 17, of New Zealand, realized a safe 6-iron would’ve worked fine. Na Yeon Choi took home the trophy; runner-up Ko supplanted Inbee Park as No. 1.

Five weeks and two professional titles later, Leadbetter said Ko is “warming to the fact that this is pretty cool.”

In the stifling heat of Singapore, Ko opened with a 4-under 68 on March 5 to trail Park and Yani Tseng by two. Ko is gunning for her third consecutive title. With victories at the Australian Women’s Open and New Zealand Women’s Open during the past two weeks, she now owns five national-open titles.

“It’s always been my dream,” Ko said, “and hopefully I can become one of the world’s greatest female golfers, and I’m right there. Obviously I have a lot of things to work on still … it’s an exciting time.”

Early in the week in Singapore, Ko joined seven other LPGA players – Michelle Wie, Jessica Korda and Paula Creamer among them – for a fashion show. At the end of the runway, Ko blew a kiss to the crowd.

“I was really nervous, because, I mean, when am I ever going to walk down a runway, first of all?” asked Ko, who wore a bright red dress and black booties. “And I didn’t do any proper rehearsals; so, OK, I didn’t know what pose to strike.”

Sounds as if she handled it, well, like a pro.

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The day Ko birdied nine of 10 holes in New Zealand to shoot 61, she said it was laughable how poorly she hit it on the range before the round. She set out to simply have some fun and walked off with a course record.

In the 15 months that Leadbetter has worked with Ko, he has watched her confidence continue to build. She’s not outwardly cocky – quite the opposite, really – but, as Leadbetter said, Ko knows she can win with her “B” game.

“It’s pretty scary what she could do,” he said.

After Ko won at Royal Melbourne, reports came out that she quietly slipped $500 to the club’s assistant general manager to boost the staff’s after-party. That’s nothing new for Ko, though. She also left a couple grand for the clubhouse/dining room staff after winning the CME Group Tour Championship and million-dollar bonus.

“She really does things the right way,” said Leadbetter, praising Ko’s caring nature.

Teacher and pupil keep in contact when she’s overseas, but Leadbetter will be onsite in Phoenix and then Palm Springs, Calif., when the tour shifts back to the U.S.

They’re focusing on tightening up her wedges now. And though Ko has the game to win on any course, her first major title likely will come at a U.S. Open or British Women’s Open track. The tougher, the better for this level-headed teen.

Leadbetter has worked with his share of prodigies over the years. He calls Wie the best ball-striker he’s ever seen – male or female – at ages 15-16. He also says Ko is the most complete player he has seen at such a young age.

Ko, who has long idolized Wie, will never be the most jaw-dropping player in terms of power or miracle shots. But she’s as steady as they come.

“Those other girls are going to have to play,” Leadbetter said. “Somebody is going to have to do something special to knock off the No. 1 player.”

It won’t happen this week. Regardless of the results in Singapore, Ko will return to the U.S. at the top of the game.

“Hopefully I’m going to keep myself cool,” said Ko, speaking of the weather.

It’s the only element of the game she can’t control.