Women’s golf has never felt so young.
A year after Lexi Thompson became the youngest player (16) to win an LPGA event, a 15-year-old amateur from New Zealand is threatening to eclipse the mark.
With another 4-under-par 68 Friday, Lydia Ko took a share of the second-round lead at the LPGA’s CN Canadian Women’s Open. She’s vying to become the first amateur to win an LPGA event since JoAnne Carner in 1969.
At 8-under 136, Ko is tied atop the leaderboard with South Korea’s Chella Choi. They're out front of a star-studded field that includes 48 of the LPGA's top 50 money winners this year.
Ko, who was born in South Korea and moved to New Zealand when she was 6, said she didn’t notice she was leading Friday until she stepped to the 15th tee after making three consecutive birdies at Vancouver Golf Club.
“I took a peek at the leaderboard and my name was at the top,” Ko said. “It was like, `Oh my God!’”
It has been a year of head-spinning moments like that for Ko. 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.
Ko is an 11th grader, but she acknowledged the whirlwind year has come with a sacrifice. She said she has missed 75 days of school this year (as New Zealand’s school year runs through an American summer.
“I am definitely missing out on teenage activities,” she said.
“I’m realizing golf is like a full-time job, and I’m missing a lot of school.”
Though she already appears to have a pro’s game, Ko said she would like to go to Stanford as Michelle Wie did.
“My favorite players are Michelle Wie and Lexi Thompson,” Ko said. “I really look up to them and think they’re awesome players.”
Ko knows awesome golf this year.