Golf: Ko continues to rise

By Daniel Richardson of APNZ in Queenstown

Lydia Ko appears to be coming to terms with how fast her profile is growing. Photo / Getty Images.
Lydia Ko appears to be coming to terms with how fast her profile is growing. Photo / Getty Images.

Lydia Ko appears to be coming to terms with how fast her profile is growing.

The 15-year-old prodigy, who has put women's golf into the thoughts of sports fans in New Zealand, will play as a celebrity in the NZ PGA Championship pro-am at The Hills on Saturday and Sunday.

Ko held a press conference at the Arrowtown course, near Queenstown this afternoon, which was the busiest of the week.

"I can see by my Twitter followers," Ko said of her increasing stardom. "I wake up and there's another 85.

"This is not even a women's tournament and they want a press conference with me and stuff like this. But I think the media is the biggest part and then also publicly people are recognising me and when I just walk by people are staring at me and I'm like 'why are they staring at me?'. But they're confused if it's actually me or not."

Ko, who has more than 3000 Twitter followers, will play in the seeding tournament for the amateurs at the Millbrook Resort tomorrow.

She will then be paired with two pros and another amateur during the weekend.

It will represent a change of pace for her on the course.

"Most of my tournaments are pretty serious golf and every stroke counts," she said.

"But here I'm just out here for fun and it's really a men's tournament. So I don't really need to play good golf in a serious way. I'm just going to enjoy my time out here and I don't get to see men's golf that often and especially because there are so many international players out here it means I can learn stuff up here as well."

The leading amateur from the pro-am wins their pro $10,000 so plenty of players will be hoping they can draw Ko for the weekend.

Ko will have local bungy sales manager Regan Pearce on her bag for the weekend, which could be entertaining in itself because Pearce has never caddied before and is doing it as a favour to the youngster after they met last year when Ko went bungy jumping.

Ko's recent exploits, including winning the New Zealand women's Open in Christchurch, which she followed up with a third-place effort at the Australian Open in Canberra a week later, has meant she has missed a lot of school.

She also played at the Thailand Open last weekend and said the schedule meant she needed to hit the books as soon as she could.

The teenager will play at the first women's major of the year, the Kraft Nabisco Championship, in the United States at the start of April, although the rest of her schedule for 2013 remains unclear.

- APNZ

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