Luke Robinson: Lydia Ko, the smiling assassin is back after drought-breaking victory in Hawaii

OPINION: It's been a long time in between drinks - 1084 days to be exact - but welcome back to the winner's circle, Lydia Ko.

Boy, will those drinks taste good for the 23-year-old, who dominated the field in Hawaii to claim glory at the LOTTE Championship. 

Missing just eight greens and 12 fairways throughout the whole tournament, and putting on a ball-striking clinic, her 28-under is her best-ever score to par on the LPGA Tour, beating her previous best by six shots. 

But her scoring wasn't the most surprised aspect of her victory - it was her body language and her demeanor.  

Watching Ko over the weekend, she was different - she had a different aura to her. She was smiling in between, before and after shots. 

She was loving life. 

Her best moment of the third round came when Ko was tucking into some fruit that her mum had packed for her and she offered it to the camera operator, who gladly took a piece. 

But as soon as she set up to hit the ball, she was all business - a true wolf in sheep's clothing when it came to the way she played. 

Since teaming up with coach Sean Foley midway through 2020, Ko has blazed a trail on the golf course. They have been together for 16 events - she has finished top 15 in 13 of those, including three runner-up finishes and, now, a victory. 

Lydia Ko with the LOTTE Championship trophy
Lydia Ko with the LOTTE Championship trophy. Photo credit: Getty

Maybe the term 'Ko is back' might be wrong, because she never went anywhere - but it's not just her form that's back, her presence is back too.

Foley told Newshub late last year that 2021 would be a special year for Ko and she's started very well, with three top-two finishes in the first five starts and a stacked 2021 calendar on the horizon, including the Tokyo Olympics. Foley may just be right. 

At just 23 years old, Ko could retire now as one of the greatest women golfers of all time, but her current run may just be the spark she needed to reignite her career. 

Luke Robinson is a Newshub sports reporter