Fresh off her victory at last week’s Ladies’ European Tour event in New Zealand, 15-year-old amateur Lydia Ko is gunning for back-to-back wins on the pro circuit. Ko, who captured the LPGA’s Canadian Women’s Open in 2012, and Jiyai Shin share the third-round lead, six shots clear of the rest of the field.
And we will actually get to watch. Get this: Golf Channel adjusted its programming schedule to air the final round of the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open LIVE tonight beginning at 9:30 p.m. ET.
(Um, I’m supposed to meet some friends from college for dinner, but I almost want to bail so I can watch Ko.)
Ko, who was born in South Koran but based in New Zealand, and Shin, who nearly seems old at age 24, staged a thrilling duel on Saturday’s third round, with the pair trading birdies and eagles, and just overall compelling golf.
Ko said she was looking forward to the challenge of going head-to-head with Shin in the final round.
“I’ve seen her play before at the Canadian Open and then on TV,” she said. “She’s a pretty accurate player off the tee, so in that way we could be pretty similar. She’s a great player and there are things that I do need to learn from her.”
Shin said the leading pair realistically only have each other to worry about, though the low scoring of the opening three rounds mean a late challenger cannot be ruled out.
“This makes it comfortable for us because we just focus — I just focus about her score and she also just kept looking at my score,” Shin said. “But this course has a lot of chance to birdie, a lot of par 5s, so I’m still keep watching for other players. First day Lydia hit a 10 under, I hit an 8 under, so all players had a chance to make the lower scores.”
Ko and Shin share similar playing styles and reserved demeanors on the course, but the 15-year-old phenom seems to have a sense of humor, too, according to this report from The Australian:
“Oh, well they say we look alike too,” Ko said.
“She’s a pretty accurate player off the tee. A great player and there are things that I do need to learn off her.”
One facet where the two couldn’t be more different is the emotion they show on the course.
When Shin landed her eagle on the 5th she let her celebration rip, whereas Ko has been noted for her calm manner in both good times and bad.
“I don’t really like to show my expressions a lot unless it’s pretty big,” Ko said.
“There has been (times) in the past where I’ve shown emotion or expression and, even if it was good, it has led on to not a good hole after.”
So, anyone going to spend their Saturday night watching women’s golf? It’s OK to admit it! I mean, Lydia Ko is damn impressive. And imagine the buzz if she beats out Shin for back-to-back titles as a 15-year-old! Crazy.
(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)