Editorial: Ko lighting way for NZ's Asia-embracing future

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Korean-born golfing prodigy wearing Kiwiness with pride

There is one aspect of our increasing embrace of Asia and Asian immigrants that the new Asia New Zealand Foundation study does not accord sufficient weight.

That is the part played by sport, an arena in which no one has had a greater role than Lydia Ko.

The 16-year-old golfing prodigy has, in equal measure, captivated and thrilled New Zealanders.

In return, the presence of All Black Israel Dagg in the quirky video that she used this week to confirm her decision to turn professional said much about her view of her adopted country.

This was certainly not someone who did not want to mix with other New Zealanders or embrace their culture.

Her decision drew warnings that she could be turning professional too young. Comparisons were made with Michelle Wie, who went down the same route and has failed to win a major.

In that context, it is reassuring that Ko has indicated she intends to continue her studies. This balanced approach suggests, in turn, that she will not allow herself to be over-burdened with sponsorship demands, at a cost to performance on the course.

She can well afford to restrict those demands to a reasonable level. During her amateur career, which took in relatively few tournaments, she passed up about US$1.2 million ($1.44 million) in potential earnings.

That, and much more, is now hers to win. Ko's current ranking of fourth in the world is better than that of any other golfer from this country. Already, she is one of New Zealand's great sporting stories.

- NZ Herald

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