Women's world No 1 golfer Lydia Ko has been awarded the Lonsdale Cup for 2015.

The Lonsdale Cup is presented annually to the athlete or team who made the most outstanding contribution to Olympic or Commonwealth sport and, following the addition of both golf and rugby sevens to the Olympic programme in 2009, athletes from these codes have been eligible for consideration.

Ko's honour is the first time in the 54-year history of the award that the cup has gone to a New Zealand golfer and she met NZOC chef de mission Rob Waddell this morning ahead of the ISPS Handa New Zealand Women's Open in Christchurch.

The award tops off a phenomenal year for the 18-year-old golfer as Ko played her way into the history books of world golf.


In 2015, Ko became the sport's youngest No 1, took five LPGA titles including her first major, collected her second New Zealand Open title, claimed the tour's points race and was named the LPGA's player of the year.

However, Ko's excellent results weren't the only consideration. Her work off the golf course also came into consideration.

In June 2015, Ko launched the annual Lydia Ko Scholarship, giving two young New Zealand female golfers the opportunity to travel to her training base in Florida for a week of personal coaching and mentoring from both Ko and her team.

She was also an active ambassador for two New Zealand Golf initiatives aimed at getting more people playing golf - the 'LOVE Golf' and 'She Loves Golf' programmes.

"Last year was a great year for me on the course and I have aspirations to keep this momentum up in 2016," she said.

"Winning the Lonsdale Cup for 2015 is a real honour and, with golf being included at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, there are added incentives for me to work towards producing more good golf this year.

9 Feb, 2016 5:00am
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"I hope to continue playing well in the next few months and work hard towards Olympic selection into the New Zealand team."

The Lonsdale Cup was first presented in 1961 to Sir Murray Halberg and since then has been awarded to outstanding New Zealand athletes including Sir John Walker, Sir Peter Snell, Barbara Kendall, Rob Waddell and Valerie Adams.

The cup is sterling silver and of historic value, having its origins in a 1911 sporting festival between the United Kingdom, Canada and Australasia held to honour the accession of George V.

Ko will receive the Lonsdale Cup at a formal award presentation on Friday evening.