IRVING, Texas – Lydia Ko sent her caddie up a pine tree behind the 14th green – and tumbled down the leaderboard Thursday in the North Texas Shootout.
Lydia Ko had a triple bogey after losing a ball in the tree and dropped three more strokes on the next two holes Thursday to put her career-long LPGA Tour cuts streak in jeopardy.
“I would never have imagined for it to be stuck up there,” Ko said.
Coming off a victory Sunday in California in the Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic, Ko finished with a 4-over 75 to fall nine strokes behind leaders Juli Inkster, Cristie Kerr and Sydnee Michaels.
On the par-4 14th, Ko’s second shot flew past the green and behind the tree. The top-ranked New Zealander tried to go over the tree coming back, but failed to clear it. She was given a penalty drop beneath the tree for an unplayable lie even though caddie Jason Hamilton was unable to identify the ball.
“You just get those days where things that you least expect happen,” Ko said. “It’s good to know my caddie is always there to do what’s best for me. I didn’t know he was that good climbing trees.”
Said Hamilton: “Not being able to see it from the ground, I felt I better get up there.”
The 18-year-old Ko followed the triple bogey with a double bogey after hitting into the water on the par-4 15th and lost another stroke with a bogey on the par-4 16th.
Ko was tied for 117th in the 144-player field that will be cut to the top 70 and ties after the second round and to the top 50 and ties after the third. She has made the 36-hole cuts in all 50 of her tour starts.
“Hopefully, I’ll be able to pull off something amazing,” Ko said.
Ko said Wednesday that she will donate her earnings to the earthquake relief effort in Nepal. She has two LPGA Tour victories this year and leads the money list with $908,810.
The 54-year-old Inkster also shared the first-round lead last week in California and ended up tying for 15th. She won the last of her 31 tour titles in 2006.
“Hopefully, I can build on this,” Inkster said. “I’m not really looking forward to winning. I mean, as (Jack) Nicklaus said, `I’ve played good at first rounds and really haven’t played good my second rounds.'”
Kerr won the Kia Classic in late March for her 17th tour victory.
Kerr and Michaels each had only 24 putts.
“The greens are really good here,” Kerr said. “So, if you hit the greens, even if you have a little longer than you wanted with your shot, you have some opportunities. So, it was a good day for me.”
Fort Worth resident Angela Stanford was a stroke back at 67 along with Lexi Thompson, Natalie Gulbis, Maria Hernandez, Ryann O’Toole, Karine Icher, Sandra Gal, Gerina Piller, Wei-Ling Hsu and Alena Sharp.
Michelle Wie topped the group at 68.
Defending champion Stacy Lewis opened with a 69 in her home-state event.
After qualifying on Monday, Smiths Falls, Ont., native Brooke Henderson finished at -2. Rebecca Lee-Bentham carded a 4-over 75 on the day while fellow Canadians Sue Kim and Jennifer Kirby opened at +5.