David Leggat: Lydia Ko's attitude to Rio refreshing

By David Leggat

Lydia Ko of New Zealand holds up the championship trophy after winning the Marathon Classic. Photo / Getty
Lydia Ko of New Zealand holds up the championship trophy after winning the Marathon Classic. Photo / Getty

Time to doff the hat again to the remarkable Lydia Ko.

And this time it's not for a performance on a course, although her 14th LPGA Tour win in Ohio early today was another reason to celebrate Ko's stunning golf talent.

Rather it is for her reaction to yesterday's naming of herself, along with Danny Lee and Ryan Fox, to the New Zealand team for the Rio Olympic tournament.

It's not simply her pleasure at being confirmed for Rio - that has long been a given for the world No 1 player - but after weeks of bitter disappointment and recrimination over the way the game's leading men have dissed the whole Olympic golf event, here's the game's best woman dead chuffed at the prospect of chasing Olympic gold.

''I'm super excited to represent New Zealand, to be able to see the village, the food court and just everything; it's going to be so cool," Ko said, making it abundantly clear an Olympic medal is her big target for the year.

Spoken like a true 19-year-old for whom the (golf) world really is her oyster.

''I'm super excited. I've met some Olympians like (rower) Mahe Drysdale and (kayaker) Lisa Carrington and I think just to say I am an Olympian just takes me to another level."

How far removed is Ko from the craven approach of the men's best golfers, the top four in the rankings of whom have led an exodus from Rio - Jason Day, Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy.

Depending on who you believe, they and other prominent male players have bailed on golf's return to the Olympics after a 112-year absence for a range of reasons, including fears over the Zika virus, golf's gruelling week-on-week schedule and a chance for a break, political unrest in Brazil, lack of prize money and they simply can't be bothered.

That quartet, and five others inside the world's top 25, have walked - Australian Adam Scott (then No 8), Branden Grace (South Africa, 11), Louis Oosthuizen (South Africa, 14), Hideki Matsuyama (Japan, 17) and Charl Schwartzel (South Africa, 23) - along with a pile of other, lower-ranked players.

The lack of honesty has been stunning. Why not just say it doesn't interest them and move on instead of coming up with lame excuses.

No notable women have withdrawn from Rio, which tells its own story.

Golf might be making a short return to the Olympic programme and for that reason, as well as her unbridled delight at what lies ahead in Rio, you'd hope Ko has a Games to remember.

- NZ Herald

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW
Stats provided by

© Copyright 2017, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf04 at 27 May 2017 12:15:01 Processing Time: 449ms