Golf: Ko soars to No 45 whatever the stats

By David Leggat

Statistics can be used to tell you just about anything.

Take Lydia Ko, the golf world's newest, youngest sensation, after her Canadian Open victory in Vancouver on Monday.

The 15-year-old from North Harbour shot up 140 places to No45 on the world rankings with that fabulous achievement, which came a fortnight after winning the US Amateur title in Cleveland.

However, one idea doing the rounds in the wake of Ko's colossal performance - and using a little creativity - is that Ko can actually be bumped up to No2, behind runaway leader Yani Tseng of Taiwan.

The rankings work on a 35-tournament system, that is points accrued by players are divided by 35, the minimum number allowable for calculating rankings. Men's rankings are assessed on a 40-tournament divisor.

Players who have played more than 35 tournaments are calculated with the number of events they've played; those below 35 must use 35 as their calculator.

Ko has played 10 professional tournaments. She has 88.43 points, at an average of 2.53 per event. If her ranking was assessed over just her 10 tournaments, her average would come out at 8.843 and place her second behind Tseng.

World No2 American Stacy Lewis has a points average of 8.54; third-placed Korean Na Yeon Choi 8.52. Tseng, who has been world No1 for the past 81 weeks, averages 14.32 points.

The number of points available at tournaments varies, depending on the event and strength of the field. At Vancouver, 48 of the top 50 players teed up, meaning Ko garnered far more points than had she won a middling LPGA Tour event.

New Zealand Golf manager Phil Aickin understands the systems are to try to make rankings relevant. He'd settle for rating Ko's performance, on top of having been top amateur in the US Open last month in Wisconsin, then winning the US Amateur, as "incredible".

"But to say she's world No2 is probably a bit of a stretch. Any ranking system is a nice indicator, but not the be all and end all," he said yesterday.

Aickin gave the example, under the alternative ranking system, of an unknown player stepping up in the British Open at Royal Liverpool next month and winning the title in her first professional event and - if divided by one - be world No1.

"The women's game is so strong, with the way the Koreans have taken to it. It's still a fact that being an amateur and 15, and No 45 in a game dominated by Asian countries, is incredible," he added.

Ko - who remarkably has yet to miss a cut in her professional outings - is off to Liverpool, starting on September 13, followed by the Espirito Santo world amateur championship in Turkey from September 27.

And Ko has thrown up a pile of robust debate about the Halberg Awards this year.

Before Monday, Ko would most likely have been among the four finalists for the Sportswoman category, but with Olympic gold medallists, canoeist Lisa Carrington and shot putter Val Adams, possibly rated above her in any early framing of a market.

However, Ko's three-shot win in Vancouver will have changed all that.

Ko's Canadian Open victory has added plenty of juice to the awards night.

KO'S PRO RECORD

* 1st: Canadian Open (youngest winner on the LPGA Tour), Vancouver, Aug 2012.
* 39th =: US Open (leading amateur), Blackwolf Run, Wisconsin, July 2012.
* 17th =: NZ Open (aged 14) Pegasus club, Christchurch, Feb 2012.
* 19th =: Australian Open (leading amateur) Royal Melbourne, Feb 2012.
* 32nd =: Australian Ladies Masters (leading amateur) Royal Pines, Gold Coast, Feb 2012.
* 1st: NSW Open (youngest winner of a pro event) Oatlands course, Jan 2012.
* 4th =: NZ Open (aged 13, leading amateur) Pegasus club, Feb 2011.
* 12 =: Australian Open, Commonwealth club, Melbourne, Feb 2011.
* 2nd: NSW Open, Oatlands course, Jan 2011.
* 7th =: NZ Open (aged 12, leading amateur) Clearwater club Christchurch, Feb 2010.

- NZ Herald

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