14-year-old Kiwi amateur Lydia Ko became the youngest winner of a professional golf tour event, capturing the women’s New South Wales Open by four shots on Sunday.
Before you question the quality of the field, Ko held off veterans Becky Morgan and Lindsey Wright, who made a run and carded five birdies on the front nine. However, the young Ko didn’t crack under pressure and responded with birdies of her own on Nos. 8 and 16. Meanwhile, Wright, 31, faltered coming down the stretch, with bogeys on Nos. 16 and 17.
According to the AP, her role models are American golfers Michelle Wie and Alexis Thompson, who set the bar when it comes to teen phenoms. Well, she’s achieved more than they did at her age and considering their illustrious careers, that’s saying a lot.
“It’s pretty amazing,” Ko, who turns 15 on April 24, said after her victory. “I don’t really know what to say . . . I’m really happy and to be part of history is like a miracle. It’s not something you can have by clicking your fingers.”
Last year, Ko was in a similar position, taking a one-stroke lead on to the final hole before a three-putt saw her lose by a single stroke to Caroline Hedwall.
This time, with proud mum Tina watching on, Ko walked to the 18th green with a four-stroke lead before calmly holing a one-foot putt for par.
“It was really nerve racking,” Ko said. “I had a few deep breaths out there (on the 18th hole). I was nervous until the last second. (I was) thinking of last year and I looked back and there were so many people watching (in the crowd).”
Ko, a native of South Korea who moved to New Zealand in ’03, plans to play in about 30 tournaments in 2012, including pro events in the next two week at the Australian Masters at Royal Pines on the Gold Coast and the LPGA’s Australian Open at Royal Melbourne.
I’m thinking this history-making achievement calls for Ko to be featured in “Know Your Asians.” Stay tuned…