26 Nov 2014

Confusion over Ko's NZ Open chances

1:42 pm on 26 November 2014

There's confusion over Lydia Ko's availability for next year's New Zealand Golf Open in Christchurch.

Lydia Ko's appearance at the New Zealand Open last year attracted healthy crowds.

Lydia Ko's appearance at the New Zealand Open last year attracted healthy crowds. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

After Ko's record win in the LPGA's Tour Championship in Florida, her coach David Leadbetter told Radio New Zealand the world number three is planning to play at New Zealand's premier women's tournament, which is set to be held at Clearwater Golf Club from February 27.

"She's going to be taking a month off, coming back to New Zealand and playing the New Zealand Open which she's excited about," says Leadbetter.

"From what I've understood all conversation from her camp has been that she is playing so that would be good news."

However the New Zealand Golf chief executive Dean Murphy says he's still working on securing Ko's services and isn't overly optimistic about his chances.

The tournament will clash with an LPGA event in Thailand and Murphy says she will probably have to play early season LPGA events to try and move her way up the standings.

"I would say it's a long shot, but we remain hopeful and there's certainly some good noises coming out of her camp the last couple of days," Murphy says.

"A lot of people want her to play here and David (Leadbetter) is one of them and we're obviously also one of them."

Ko won the New Zealand Open in 2013 and was runner up this year as she played through illness.

She would again be a major drawcard in 2015 after her outstanding rookie professional season and her absence from the tournament would hurt its appeal to local fans.

Murphy hopes the golfing public would understand Ko's reasons if she has to miss the event.

"Emotionally everyone would love to see her back in New Zealand and we do need to remember she's only been professional for just over a year now so it's very early in her career.

"We're going to see a lot of her in New Zealand over the next 10, 15, 20 years, so we do need to remember that."

New Zealand Golf expect to hear from Ko about her schedule in the next couple of weeks.