Lydia Ko looks ahead to British Open
Mon, 27 Aug 2012 6:00p.m.
By Alex Bourn
Kiwi golfing prodigy Lydia Ko has once again broken new ground, becoming the first New Zealander and the youngest golfer ever to win on the LPGA tour.
The 15-year-old world number one amateur from Auckland’s North Shore ran away with a three-shot victory at the Canadian Open, over a field that included most of the sport's top professionals.
While her classmates were sitting their end-of-year practice exams, Lydia Ko was passing an even bigger test – the youngest golfer ever to win on the LPGA tour.
She's not a pro yet, but handled the pressure just like one.
“I try to smile the whole round and I guess it worked,” she says. “People back home say I'm the only one that smiles. I try to smile when I make a bogey too. So yeah I may seem a little crazy, smiling and laughing.”
Two weeks ago she was the first New Zealand player to win the US Amateur Championship, and today at the Canadian Open she made history again.
Ko made four straight birdies from the 10th to 13th and added another on the 15th to put the title beyond reach. She held a four-shot lead heading down the last, enough to win despite a bogey.
Ko was born in South Korea and joined her first golf club on Auckland's North Shore at seven years old. That's where she met coach Guy Wilson, who was anxiously watching her win from home this morning.
“It's never safe until the final putt’s finished, so [I’m] just truly, truly stoked to see her get across the line,” says Wilson.
The Pinehurst College student has to juggle training with her school studies, but her teacher says she takes it all in her stride.
“We have fortnightly awards and the other students are pretty excited when they win an award ahead of Lydia,” says Kieran Verryt, assistant headmaster of Senior College. “The reality is she could get it most weeks, to be fair, but they're proud of her and happy to see her succeed.”
Because she's an amateur, Ko can't cash the winner's cheque of just less than $370,000. But she has a secret motivation - her coach tells her to imagine something horrible he has to do if she wins.
“He said if I win he'll do a bungee jump, and he's a little scared and he can't do that, so obviously I just made him do a bungee jump!” says Ko.
“I said I might! I might!” says Wilson. “Oh damn, I haven't talked to her yet but hopefully she's forgotten I said that.”
Ko is now looking ahead to another big tournament, competing in the British Open next month.
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