New Zealand golf sensation Lydia Ko is about to introduce herself to a new audience as she ventures to the United States for the first time as the world's leading female amateur.

The North Harbour 14-year-old departs on Thursday with the US women's amateur championship very much in her sights.

The reigning New Zealand and Australian amateur champion is to contest the 18th and final regional qualifying tournament for the national event at Brae Burn Country Club in Massachusetts on July 20.

The top four players in a field of 35 advance to the US championship itself, which begins with the first round of strokeplay at Rhode Island, New York, on August 8.

Ko and her coach Guy Wilson will have to cram their preparations for the qualifying event because they are allowed just two rounds of practice at the venue for the 18-hole shootout.

Accompanying the Korean-born New Zealand-raised Ko on Thursday's flight will be a new putter and a remodelled putting stroke which she has employed to deliver greater consistency on the greens.

Both she and Wilson are more than content with her play from tee to green but aspects of her short game required attention.

Two weeks of solid practice later and Ko is happy with the change, and so is Wilson.

"Her play tee to green is as good as it's ever been and her putting has a new lease of life," Wilson told NZPA.

Ko, who used to adopt a conventional putting grip, now holds the short stick with an overhand grip, meaning the right-hander's left hand is positioned lowest.

"It gives her a different feel and it's all going good."

Wilson said Ko had been unsatisfied with her putting for a while before making the technical change.

"She's been so damned accurate off the tee and the fairways that it is hard to improve in those areas, but something has to give because you cannot expect everything to work.

"The putting has always been something of an achilles feel."

Wilson originally sought to have Ko exempted from having to attend the qualifying tournament because he considered her No 1 world ranking justified direct entry to the US championship.

But two requests were turned down, hence the extended duration of their stay on the US east coast.

Wilson has rationalised that the Americans' reluctance was probably based on their wariness of the world rankings system, which was launched only in March.

Ko has topped the rankings for much of the intervening period while fellow Aucklander and New Zealand teammate Cecilia Cho, 16, is presently ranked at No 2.

Two Americans feature among the top 10, the best of them being Erica Popson at No 4.

Wilson knows if Ko qualifies for the US championship that she will have to keep herself occupied outside of the golf course.

To that end and to help fill in time he has arranged for Ko to spend a week at Stanford University in California, where 14-time major winner Tiger Woods studied for two years before turning professional.

Ko is seriously considering attending Stanford in a couple of years time before she, too, tries to make a living from the game, and a week on the campus will enable the youngster to meet the people she needs to know and make use of the university's practice facilities.

Another treat for the teenager will be a planned meeting with Alexis Thompson, a young American tipped for a huge future in the pro game.

Thompson, now 16, joined the pro ranks last year following a stellar amateur career and at the age of 12 she became the youngest player in history to qualify to play in the US Women's Open.

Her half brother, Nicholas Thompson, won the New Zealand PGA Championship in Christchurch in 2007 when that tournament was sanctioned by the Nationwide Tour, a feeder circuit for the PGA Tour.

Wilson met Alexis Thompson's manager in Melbourne last year and hopes to arrange for the two golfers to meet and chew the fat, and for Ko to pick up the sort of networking skills which can be put to good use as her career develops.

The visit will mark Ko's first appearance in the US since she attended the junior world championships at San Diego, when she finished second in the 11-13 years and 9-10 years sections in 2009 and 2007.

- NZPA