Lydia Ko is potentially the best golfer New Zealand has produced for many a year, male or female. And remarkably, she's only 13 years old!
Ko recently made headlines in Australian golfing circles when she finished second in the NSW Open in Sydney. A couple of weeks later, she finished in a tie for 12th in the women's Australian Open in Melbourne, winning the trophy for the leading amateur player at the tournament, a first for a New Zealander.
Today she tees off in the Pegasus New Zealand Women's Open north of Christchurch. This tournament, like its Australian counterpart is co-sanctioned by the Ladies' European Tour, and has attracted a strong field. But Lydia Ko is the lead story on the Tour's website - read on:
It’s hard to believe that Lydia Ko, one of New Zealand’s leading chances for the Pegasus New Zealand Women’s Open Golf Championships, is only aged 13.
She’s taller than 12 months ago and now has pierced earrings (thanks to a promise from her mother if she played well last year). She’s more assured but still retains that delightful, bubbly, sense of humour of so many in this age group.
But that is on the surface. Deep down there is wisdom and determination.
Ko decided not to play in the Ladies Masters golf tournament in Queensland last weekend, even after posting a second in the New South Wales Open and a 12th in the Australian Open in the weeks previous.
“I wanted to be fresh for playing the Pegasus New Zealand Open and did not want to be too tired which was the way I felt after the Australian Open.”
Ko has talent to burn, but her on-course demeanour and course management are far and above what could be expected of one so young. She is articulate, and despite her onvious devotion to golf, seems to be a pretty regular 13-year-old.
She's already attracting the attention of here peers too - read on:
After her final round last year her playing partner, Iben Tinning, described the almost teenager as ‘being unbelievable already” while Cecilie Lundgreen, a veteran of 11 years on the circuit, said that “it was incredible how a 12-year-old seemed to be totally unfazed by everything that was going on around her.”
That’s a year ago, and going by recent results, Ko has come a long way in a short time. Not bad for a 13-year-old who has yet to have her first day at secondary school, something she is actually excited about.
Lydia Ko has the golfing world at her feet. So does comparative veteran Cecilia Cho (aged 16) who finished in a tie for 5th in the Asutralian Ladies' Masters last weekend against much the same field that she and Ko will face this week. We will be watching their respective performances with much interest, having had a sneaky peek at the Pegasus course over our Christmas holidays.