Remarkable Kiwi amateur golfer Lydia Ko peeled off a staggering 11 birdies and an eagle as she blazed a course record when the Australian Open began yesterday in Canberra.
The teenage sensation's firecracker 63 encouraged experienced Kiwi professional John Lister to label Ko the best female golfer in the world.
"This is a huge call but I think she is so far ahead of the rest of the field," he said. Ko, 15, started with a bogey when she began her round at the 10th hole but birdied the last, the ninth, to claim the record of 10 under in her first official round at the Royal Canberra Golf Club course.
"After bogeying the first hole I was like 'okay what kind of day is this going to be today?' and then I made a couple of birdies in a row and that settled me down," she told a packed press conference .
"I have been playing well before and then finished triple bogey, double bogey to lose it so I didn't really think about the score today. Tomorrow could go one of the two ways. I could not have a great round or I could follow up. It will be quite hard to back up today's round so hopefully I just play consistently."
Lister said he expected Ko to struggle this week after the adrenalin and excitement of powering to victory in the NZ Open.
But Ko maintained her form when she teed up alongside world No1 Yani Tseng and her idol Michelle Wie.
"She is better than any woman they want to compare her with or any field they want to put her up against," said Lister.
"Every week Lydia is there. I mean she does not have an off day.
"She is ranked No30 in the world on the professional list but she has played 12 professional events, won three of them and come second in another two.
"I hate to predict things for anybody but this girl, we have never seen anything like it in this part of the world before."