Amateur Ko, 15, closing in on third pro victory

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Amateur Lydia Ko is in position to win yet another professional title in her improbable hard climb in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings.

At 15, Ko looks intent on shooting to her age in the world rankings.

Ko teed it up at the ISPS Handa New Zealand Women’s Open ranked No. 38 in the world, and now she is poised to move up in a bid to win on yet another women’s professional tour.

With a 4-under-par 68 Saturday, Ko took a share of the lead with South Korea’s Seon Woo Bae going into the final round of the Ladies European Tour event at Clearwater Golf Club in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Ko, who was born in South Korea but moved to New Zealand when she was 6, appears determined to build on her remarkable success a year ago. Ko was 14 when she won the Women’s New South Wales Open on the Australian Ladies Professional Golf tour early last year, which, at the time, made her the youngest male or female winner of a professional event. After turning 15, she won the U.S. Women’s Amateur last summer. Two weeks after that, she became the youngest winner of an LPGA event, beating a strong field at the CN Canadian Women’s Open. She became the first amateur to win an LPGA title in 43 years.

With strong local support behind her Saturday, Ko was the only Kiwi to make the cut after two rounds. She also led this event going into the final round last year but faded to a tie for 17th. She said she’ll be nervous trying to close out another win.

“They’ll be there, but I just have to control my nerves,” Ko told reporters. “I’ve been playing pretty good, so, hopefully, I can play like I have the last two days.”

Ko leads a respectable field. She finished the second round 18 shots ahead of American Angela Stanford, 11 ahead of Anna Nordqvist, 10 ahead of Sophie Gustafson, eight in front of Laura Davies and Christina Kim and six ahead of Maria Hjorth.