Lydia Ko reminded us shortly after making history Sunday that she really is 15 years old.
Despite having just hoisted the Canadian Women’s Open trophy to become the youngest winner in LPGA history, she told us she has yet to claim her heart’s desire.
She really, really wants a dog.
You couldn’t have blamed Ko if she really wanted the $300,000 first-place check, money she could not collect because she’s still an amateur, the first amateur to win an LPGA event in 43 years. Yeah, she wouldn’t mind the money, Ko said, but she insisted in Sunday’s aftermath that she is intent on remaining an amateur and attending college.
“After winning this, my future plans haven’t changed,” said Ko, who was born in South Korea but moved to New Zealand when she was 6. “I would love to turn professional, but I don’t want to hurry anything. It’s been my goal to go to Stanford, and I’m working toward that, even though it’s so hard because I’ve missed so much school.”
Ko did not play like she’s 15, closing with a 5-under-par 67 to equal the day’s low round.
Tied for the lead with Chella Choi going to the back nine, Ko closed ruthlessly, blowing away the LPGA’s best players. She birdied the 10th, 11th, 12th and 13th holes to take command. She won by three shots despite a bogey at the last.
Paired with former Rolex World No. 1 Jiyai Shin, and current world No. 2 Stacy Lewis, Ko didn’t blink or flinch under pressure.
“I was most impressed with just her demeanor,” said Lewis, who started the final round a shot behind Ko but ended up six shots back. “I mean, you would have never known that it was the final round of an LPGA event. She played like she had been there before. It was an impressive round for an LPGA pro, let alone a (15)-year-old.”
Hall of Famer Judy Rankin, an analyst for the telecast, was equally impressed.
“I am stunned by the composure of this player,” Rankin said. “She made an acceptance speech that was brilliant, that could have been made by somebody playing for 20 years.”
Ko has squeezed 20 years of excitement into this year. She won the U.S. Women’s Amateur two weeks ago, was low amateur at the U.S. Open last month and became the youngest winner of any professional event when she won the New South Wales Open at year’s start.
While Ko may not act her age over shots, she delightfully reminded us between shots Sunday that she is still a kid.
After missing a short putt for a fifth consecutive birdie at the 14th, Ko left the green giggling with her caddie, Brian Alexander, a Vancouver Golf Club member enlisted for his course knowledge.
“I tried to smile the whole round, and I guess it worked,” Ko said. “I try to smile even after a bogey. It may seem a little crazy, smiling and laughing after a mistake, but it was great.”
On her way to the 15th tee, Ko stopped to autograph a fan’s hat.
Who does that leading a tournament on the back nine?
Only a player who is 15 years, 4 months and 2 days old.
What a wild, wonderful day for the women’s game.
With the FedEx Cup playoffs off to a start this weekend, World Golf Hall of Fame officials weren’t calling PGA Tour officials at Bethpage Black Sunday for mementos to put on display. Instead, they were calling Vancouver Golf Club. They were looking for some keepsake from Ko to commemorate the victory in one of their exhibits.
Ko stole the show in golf Sunday. She is so young she can’t say watching Tiger Woods win the Masters in a rout in 1997 inspired her. She was born 11 days after Woods won.
Asked if she wore “power” red Sunday to emulate Woods, Ko shook her head no.
“It’s just another color,” she said.
Ko is so young, she must make Lexi Thompson feel old. Ko is 15 months younger than Thompson was when Thompson set the LPGA record winning the Navistar Classic last year.
“I feel like I’m old on tour now,” Rolex world No. 1 Yani Tseng said. “I’m only 23, but there are so many young players now.”
Tseng will have to get used to it because even as an amateur Ko is going to be getting more chances to win LPGA titles this year. She is scheduled to play the Women’s British Open in September. Also, by winning Sunday, Ko gained a spot in the LPGA’s season-ending Titleholders event in Naples, though she isn’t sure she will play because she has so much missed school to make up.
Regardless, Ko has a lot to celebrate before heading home to New Zealand.
“It feels amazing,” she said.
Tags: CN Canadian Womens Open
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