Lydia Ko isn’t just leading the CN Canadian Women’s Open.
She played well enough tee to green Saturday to run away with it at Vancouver Golf Club.
It’s a staggering possibility given she is just 15 years old.
Ko moved into position to become the youngest winner in the 63-year history of the LPGA and the first amateur to win an LPGA event in 43 years.
With an even-par 72, Ko took sole possession of the lead in the third round. At 8-under 208, she built herself a one-shot lead that could have been so much larger. Ko missed a couple birdie chances inside 4 feet and had three three-putt bogeys. She couldn’t take full advantage of some terrific ball striking with a balky putter. She needed 35 putts in the third round.
Ko will get a formidable test Sunday trying to make history.
Ko is leading a star-studded cast with the event featuring 48 of the top 50 players on the LPGA money list. It’s a field that includes Rolex No. 1 Yani Tseng, who opened with a 66 but has struggled the past two rounds with a 75 on Friday and a 74 on Saturday. Tseng is seven shots back of Ko.
Women’s golf has never felt younger.
A year after Lexi Thompson became the youngest winner of an LPGA event at 16, Ko has a chance to top her. If Ko can pull it off Sunday, she will be the first amateur to win an LPGA event since JoAnne Carner won the Burdine’s Invitational in 1969. Ko, who was born in South Korea but moved to New Zealand at 6, is enjoying a whirlwind of success this summer. She won the U.S. Women’s Amateur two weeks ago. She was the low amateur at the U.S. Open last month. She won the New South Wales Open in Australia back in January when she was still 14, becoming the youngest winner of any professional event.
“Yeah, 15-year-olds don’t lead at an LPGA event all the time, but, like I said, I'm very surprised,” Ko said. “But I've been playing really good golf, and I've been really confident with my game.”
Lewis isn’t that stunned by Ko’s play. Lewis knows her game. She played with Ko earlier this year at the Australian Women’s Open.
“Suzann Pettersen and I were talking,” Lewis said. “This is our job, and we’re working full time on it. It's not supposed to be her job, and yet she's beating us.
“I think it's good for the game. She's solid. She hits it good, she putts it good, and she's rolling with the confidence.
I say why not? More power to her.”
Ko said she didn’t feel nervous playing in the final pairing Saturday.
“Tomorrow, I'm just going to try my best,” she said. “I've got to play my own game. I can't concentrate on what the other players are doing. If they shoot 66, and I shoot 68, and I lose, I can't control what they do.”
Lewis is curious how the 15-year-old will handle Sunday pressure.
“She’s seeing her name up on an LPGA leaderboard for the first time, though it’s not the first time she’s had a lead, but there’s got to be nerves there,” Lewis said. “You never know what can happen on a Sunday. You just want to have a chance.”