Golf: Kiwi star Lydia Ko sets lofty goal after turnaround 2021 LPGA campaign

One year can certainly make a huge difference - just ask Kiwi golfer Lydia Ko, after a bounceback campaign that saw her jump 24 spots in the world rankings over 12 months,

Ending a three-year LPGA title drought, Ko recorded 11 top-10 finishes, including two wins and four runner-up finishes, and took out the Vare Trophy, awarded to the golfer with the lowest average score. 

"To win that was pretty cool and it kind of summarises my year," she tells Newshub. "I think this has been one of the best seasons I've had.  

"Hopefully, this [season] is a little bit of a momentum shifter for me." 

But while she's satisfied with her overall performance, Ko didn't quite tick all the columns on her own scorecard and grades herself down accordingly. 

"I don't think there could ever be a perfect year, but I think it was a B or B-plus," she says. "This was an important turnaround year for me and I'm hoping that I'll kinda be able to feed off it."  

That revival included a bronze medal at the Tokyo Olympics, an event she enjoyed far more than her silver-medal finish at Rio 2016. 

"There was a little less pressure this year, because I wasn't the No.1 player going into the week," reflects Ko. 

"There's no honour, I think, like that... to not only win a medal for yourself and your family, but also your country."

Ko knows this won't last forever and is still determined to walk away from golf in just six years. 

"I'm still shooting for 30," she insists. "I won't retire until I know what I want to do after golf.

"I have so many aspirations, like study or start a family. I feel like, when it's that time to step away, I’ll know, and I'm not really sure until I'm there or at that point."  

Ko isn't driven by becoming world No.1 again, after being the youngest female or male to achieve that, at just 17. Instead, she's eyeing up an even bigger achievement - capturing all five Major titles. 

"My long term goal is to win the Grand Slam," Ko says. "Obviously, if I win the Grand Slam, then it's highly likely that I will go up in the world rankings." 

Ko's already won two Majors - the 2015 Evian Championship and 2016 ANA Inspiration - and has three remaining.

If her 2021 form is anything to go by, 2022 could just be the Year of the Ko.