Date: February 12, 2013
Author: Luke Elvy / Golf Australia

Ko�s the Go ahead of Women�s Australian Open

The biggest result this week wasn t Brandt Snedeker s victory at the Pebble Beach Pro-Am, although winning after finishing runner up to Tiger & Phil the previous two events is very impressive. And he is an astonishing 82 under par through his first five events of the year. But no it wasn t the reigning FedEx Cup champions nor was it South Africa s Richard Sterne s 7-shot triumph over past Masters Champion Charl Schwartzel at the Joburg Open. It’s a purple patch of sorts for Sterne as well, following his second-place result at the Dubai Desert Classic last week. Despite both of those fine results, it was kiwi phenom Lydia Ko who stole the show by capturing the New Zealand Women’s Open and barely anyone saw a shot, unless they attended the tournament. Twitter was abuzz with Ko s hometown victory & praise came from all around the globe. Hundreds of players, fans & media sent congratulatory messages but it was this posting from s Editorial Director Jay Coffin which caught my eye. Why isn t the Lydia Ko story a bigger deal? It’s a huge feat. If she was American with 3 wins at 15 we d be losing our minds. Fact. Exactly! It’s her 3rd professional tournament victory yet she’s still an amateur and it came under the intense glare of being the local hero. The kind of pressure most players have struggled to cope with, little less a 15 year-old girl. It’s also a continuation of her breakout 2012, where at 14, she became the youngest winner of a professional event the ALPG s NSW Open (where), before forgoing school commitments in the middle of the year to capture the US Women’s Amateur. If that wasn t enough Ko dominated a star-studded field to claim the Canadian Open on the LPGA Tour, in the process smash the record, previously held by Lexi Thompson for the youngest winner on the toughest tour in the women’s game. Why do they not get it? This is Michelle Wie but with actual victories to boast. Ko is the best amateur in the world, male or female and as Coffin confirmed, this would be massive news IF she was American. What she does remind me of is Yani Tseng. No fanfare, no fuss, no hype, just blessed with an abundance of talent and the work ethic to enhance it. Perhaps, American s will take notice if she makes it four wins in this week s ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open at Royal Canberra. Don t write her off, she’s every chance and it s co-sanctioned with the LPGA Tour so it ll get plenty of coverage in the United States. If strength of fields are what s needed to prove her obscene talent then consider this There are 11 of the world s top 30 in the field including World no.1 Yani Tseng, 2012 LPGA Player of the Year Stacy Lewis, two-time and defending Women’s British Open champions Jiyai Shin. The Australian contingent is as strong as its been for years with LPGA regulars Katherine Hull, Sarah Kemp & rising star Stacey Keating But as has been the case for almost two-decades Hall of Famer Karrie Webb is our top ranked player which means there are 10 major champions combined for 24 major wins teeing it up at the soon to be re-designed Royal Canberra. Throw in Tiger s niece Cheyenne Woods and Michelle Wie, making her first appearance Down Under and you ve got the strongest field we ll see in Australian golf this year. It really is a bumper line up, kudos to Golf Australia and the ALPG who have done a great job building women’s golf but pause for a moment and absorb this a 15 year-old girl from New Zealand will start as one of the favourites. It’s something which all golf fans should take note of, especially those in America.