Young woman, big future

By Greg Ansley

Lydia Ko impresses crowd at Canberra but says she is not ready to turn pro just yet

Lydia Ko putts on the 15th hole during day two of the ISPS Handa Australian Open. Photo / Getty Images
Lydia Ko putts on the 15th hole during day two of the ISPS Handa Australian Open. Photo / Getty Images

On the first tee at Royal Canberra Golf Club, cooled by a gentle breeze and partly clouded skies, the heat is on 15-year-old Lydia Ko.

In orange shirt and pastel blue and orange checked shorts, she limbers up as the world No 1, Yani Tseng, prepares to drive off.

Ko is third off the tee, behind her favourite player American Michelle Wie. All fire powerhouse drives down the fairway, Wie pulling to the left.

Ko is a crowd favourite and drives to loud applause. She is poised and cool, but intensely focused.

Wie and Tseng walk down the fairway chatting. Ko strides alone behind them, rarely speaking.

She overshoots the green, then narrowly misses the hole.

"Ahhh," the crowd breathes.

Ko and Tseng par the hole. Wie birdies.

The second tee and Ko hammers. Ko and Wie finish in four. Tseng, after landing in the bunker, goes one down. Ko is making her presence felt. Tseng, 24, battling against her yesterday in the second round of the Australian Women's Open, says Ko makes her feel old. "She just looks like a child, she still looks like 15 but, the way she's playing golf, she looks like a pro," Tseng said after Ko shot 10 under 63 to open a first-round lead against the best in the world on Thursday.

Golfing great and Australia's most successful player Karrie Webb says it is time for Ko to turn professional.

But despite the roaring talent, Ko is still a Year 12 teenager, is planning to go to college, perhaps in America, although she is not allowed to talk to college coaches until next year.

Professionalism is on the agenda, but not just yet.

"I could enrol and do it later after a year of going pro, or do it at the same time, but you know, I definitely will be wanting to go to college," Ko said.

Encouraged by a "golfaholic" aunt, Ko started as a 5-year-old. At 13 she won both the Australian and NZ Women's stroke play titles and was the world's leading amateur by 2011. Ko has since won the Australian and American amateur titles, the Canadian and NSW Opens and, last week, the NZ Women's Open. In the past two days, she has confirmed that could be just the start.

- NZ Herald

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