Golf: N. Zealand PM praises teen sensation Lydia Ko

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key led a chorus of praise for teenage golf sensation Lydia Ko after she became the youngest winner in the history of the LPGA Tour.

The 15-year-old, who said her aim had been to make the cut at the Canadian Women's Open, finished the 72 holes at the Vancouver Golf Club course in 13-under-par 275 to beat South Korea's Park In-Bee by three shots.

Ko, born 11 days after Tiger Woods won his first Masters in 1997, is 16 months younger than Lexi Thompson, who held the previous LPGA age record at 16 years, eight months.

Prime Minister Key said the South-Korean born Ko's win in a field packed with seasoned professionals was a "fantastic achievement", topping an amazing year for the teenager.

In January she won the New South Wales Open at 14 to become the youngest winner of a professional tour event and two weeks ago she won the US Women's Amateur competition.

Key, who played with Ko in a pro-am earlier in the year, said he was "impressed by her poise, skill and absolute dedication to her sport."

New Zealand Golf chief executive Dean Murphy rated Ko's win in Canada as one of the most outstanding performances in New Zealand sporting history.

"Lydia has beaten a field of world class professionals at the age of 15. It is not only a standout achievement in the history of New Zealand golf but also in the annals of New Zealand sport," he said.

Ko did not get to collect the $300,000 winner's purse because she is an amateur but Murphy said the victory was unlikely to hasten her switch to the professional ranks as she wanted to focus on her schooling.

"I don't think so. She would have made that decision to switch a while ago if she was going to. She's pretty set in what she wants to do and I don't expect any change there."

New Zealand golfer Marnie McGuire described Ko's performance as "absolutely phenomenal", saying: "She is playing the best golfers in the world and she has beaten them comfortably."

And 1963 British Open winner Bob Charles also had praise for the young New Zealander, including her decision to take her education seriously.

"Her driving was always down the middle of the fairway and her irons were so concise," he said. "She was going for the pin on every shot and it is great to see someone so young play with that confidence."

cf/jw

LATEST BLOG POSTS