Stargazing: Patty Tavatanakit and Lydia Ko grouped together for first two rounds of LA Open
With Wilshire Country Club closed to players on Sunday, Lydia Ko took the day off and went to the beach in Santa Monica where a seagull, (...)
With Wilshire Country Club closed to players on Sunday, Lydia Ko took the day off and went to the beach in Santa Monica where a seagull, making a dive for her sandwich, managed to take a bite of her too.
Ko knows all too well what it’s like to be bombarded – with questions, expectations and requests. Having a bird try to steal her lunch might be the most normal part of her day, particularly after winning for the first time in three years the day prior.
For rookie Patty Tavatanakit, however, the increased attention has already felt a bit overwhelming. Tavatanakit, 21, held off a hard-charging Ko at the ANA Inspiration earlier this month for a wire-to-tire victory in the desert. She returns to the tour at this week’s Hugel Air Premia LA Open, where she and Ko are grouped together in the first two rounds along with Jessica Korda. The trio tee off at 4:10 p.m. ET on Wednesday.
“I feel like I had to constantly be self-aware and just tell myself to calm down or focus more,” said Tavatanakit moments after signing an autograph. “I’ve been kind of trying to be disciplined on doing my meditation to help with that.”
Tavatanakit is friendly by nature and while she doesn’t want to change her demeanor, she is aware that increased attention leads to a decrease in energy.
“I just feel like sometimes, I just want a moment to myself,” she said, “and just everyone please ignore me like I’m not here.”
At least the vibe this week is a familiar one for Tavatanakit as she went to school 7 miles down the road at UCLA. On Sunday, the Thai bomber brought Randy’s doughnuts out to the Bruins’ practice. The UCLA team typically practices out at Wilshire on Wednesday mornings.
“I basically like grew up as a good dominant player in college here in this city,” said Tavatanakit, who won seven times as a Bruin, “so it means a lot just to come back and play here.”
Ko, meanwhile, is navigating a different kind of comeback. The former No. 1, who turns 24 on Saturday, followed up a closing 62 at the ANA with a seven-stroke victory at the Lotte Championship, finishing at 28-under par. She’s 38 under in her last 90 holes.
The Kiwi’s 16th career victory moved her to No. 7 in the world, cracking the top 10 in the Rolex Rankings for the first time since February 2018. Ko has been ranked in the top 10 for 40 percent of her career.
“To say that my life was turned upside down after the win, I don’t think that is the truth,” said Ko. “Obviously it was great just to be in contention and then end up winning. I think that settled some of the doubts I had in myself.
“But after that, yeah, you know, I think there was some mixed emotions, but I felt pretty calm about everything and just I felt pretty calm playing. That’s where I feel like it should be.”