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The Herald on Sunday editorial

Herald on Sunday editorial: Lydia, our champion, captivates golf world

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Golf is a truly global game, like football, tennis and athletics and unlike rugby and cricket. Much as we celebrate our successes in those last two, we have in Lydia Ko a champion on a different plane. Her second major title on the women's professional circuit this week underlines her status as world No 1 in the women's game. It is as though we had a young woman winning Wimbledon and other tennis majors.

Yet in one way it is not like that. If we had a young tennis player winning majors her every match would be on television. For reasons best known to itself, Sky does not carry women's golf tournaments live.

The reason cannot be a lack of interest.

Televised golf has proved to be popular viewing when men are playing and there is no reason for it to be less so when women are competing. The skills are the same, perhaps more so than in most sports. Only the distance of drives differs and that hardly matters on television.

Whatever the reason, it isn't good enough. No contractual or other issue would prove too hard to overcome if it was the All Blacks or the Black Caps winning world cups. Ko deserves better from a country she continues to call home and continues to return to for its annual professional event, probably missing a more lucrative tournament on the circuit.

But Sky's failure cannot obscure the pleasure and pride she is giving us, well described by Andrew Alderson in our feature today. It is not just that she is exceptionally good, even among champions, but that her temperament is impeccable and her manner unfailingly pleasant. Nearing 19, she is no longer the bubbling, bright-eyed protege New Zealand has known. She is now looking like the seasoned professional she is, but the gleeful smile is never far away.

Her victory leap into the pond this week, a tradition for winners at California's Mission Hills Country Club, was a sight to savour. She surfaced with not even her cap askew. She is a remarkably poised and polished person, just as she is as a player.

Already, she is a model for girls coming into golf. In the Weekend Herald yesterday New Zealand Golf general manager, Dave Morgan, gave her much of the credit for a steady rise in the number of under-18 female players over the past two years. The number of junior male players has dropped over the same period.

Ko has now captivated the golfing world, as is evident by her invitation to Augusta this Masters Week to receive an award from the Golf Writer's Association of America. She is their female player of the year. She may turn out to be best of any year. She is already at the summit and she has just begun. She is a marvel.

- Herald on Sunday

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