New Zealand&aposs favourite golfing daughter may well be on track to become one of Australasia&aposs favourite golfing daughters. Just four days after her emotional win in her own national open in Christchurch, 15 year old Lydia Ko has taken the lead through nine holes at the ISPS Handa Australian Women&aposs Open to the continued amazement of not only those who know her in New Zealand but to a growing fan base across the Tasman. She is after all a former Australian Amateur Champion and the current world number one amateur and the Australian golfing public are now also aware of her international exploits but this week they may well get to see her contend and yes perhaps even win the greatest event in Australian female golf. In today&aposs opening round of the event at Royal Canberra, Ko was in the marquee morning group of Yani Tseng and Michelle Wie but as they made the turn she not only had the lead she had outplayed her arguably more credentialed playing partners. Ko bogeyed the first after driving it in the trees and would also bogey the 16th after missing a four foot par saving putt but other than that is was a case of eagles and birdies as she made the turn at 6 under and held a one shot lead over world number one Yani Tseng, Colombian Mariajo Uribe and Korean Mi Hyang Lee. The highlight came at the par five 15th at which she holed a 100 yard pitch shot for an eagle, the roar for which could be heard several fairways away. The Canberra crowd which included politicians, celebrities and fans warmed to Ko as they marvelled at her capacity to bounce back from a shaky start to take the lead with a series of high quality fairway shots, often with hybrid woods. Ko was out in the marquee pairing of world number one Yani Tseng and Michele Wie, herself a precocious talent through her teenage years. There was an interesting parallel between her and Wie, who headed to the 10th tee ten shots behind the brilliant New Zealander. Ko&aposs endearing personality and outwardly casual demeanour masks a steely determination for perfection. That combination will not only win her many golf tournaments but an increasing fan base. If by chance Ko and Australian golfing legend Karrie Webb are fighting for the title on Sunday then there might well be divided loyalties amongst the large crowds that are expected over the final two days. On Valentines Day Australia is falling in love with Lydia Ko.
Author: Bruce Young / womensaustralianopen.com