Positive COVID-19 test forces Ko out of Saudi defence

New Zealand’s Lydia Ko has been forced to withdraw from her Saudi Ladies International defence following a positive COVID-19 test.

The World No.3 won the Ladies European Tour title by five strokes over Atthaya Thitikul last year at the Royal Greens Golf & Country Club in King Abdullah Economic City.

Lydia Ko Lydia Ko (Credit: LET)

“Our 2021 champion Lydia Ko has had to withdraw from the 2022 Aramco Saudi Ladies International next week, after testing positive for COVID-19,” said tournament organisers on social media.

“We wish Lydia a speedy recovery and hope to see her back on the course soon!”

Ko broke through with her first win in three years at last year’s Lotte Championship in April. She followed that up with victory six months later at the $1 million Saudi Ladies International along with a playoff loss in the same month at the Pelican Women’s Championship to move from World No.29 at the start of 2021 to No. 3.

Australia’s Stephanie Kyriacou will make her 2022 international debut at the Saudi event before heading to the US for her rookie LPGA season.

Fellow Aussie Whitney Hillier will also join Kyriacou at this week’s event following a superb WPGA season in Australia where she finished second, third and sixth (twice) in four events across the delayed summer season.