August 26, 2012
Ko planning to stay the course after big win
By TODD SAELHOF, QMI Agency
Lydia Ko has looked up to the likes of golf phenoms Michelle Wie and Lexi Thompson for a few years.
On Sunday, the young Kiwi took both of them down.
Using four straight birdies as part of five over six holes to start the back nine Sunday, Ko erased the records of both Wie and Thompson by winning the 2012 CN Canadian Women's Open at the Vancouver Country Club.
At 15 years, four months and two days, the South Korean-born, New Zealand-raised talent is now the youngest winner in LPGA Tour history, eclipsing Thompson's mark of 16 years, eight months and eight days set at the 2011 Navistar LPGA Classic.
And Ko is the youngest to claim victory in the Canadian Women's Open championship, after Wie earned that honour at age 20 by winning the 2010 edition at St. Charles Country Club in Winnipeg.
"I don't know," said Ko, when asked if she feels like she belongs in the same league with the likes of Wie, Thompson and all the other LPGA Tour stars she defeated over the weekend. "They're professionals, and they're at a higher level than me. I respect them so much, and I look up to them so much."
After this performance, Ko's the one they'll likely be looking up to in the future.
But she says don't expect it any time soon.
"I don't think I'll turn pro early or anything," said Ko, who was steadfast about her life plan all week long. "I don't think any of my plans will change. I'll still remain an amateur and then finish high school and then go to college in the States. I mean … this is a great win, but I don't think this will affect me changing my route to my career."
Her mother, Tina, echoed that sentiment behind the 18th hole Sunday while her daughter soaked in the victory that is likely to change her life. Mom says nothing will change for the teen once they return to family and everyday life in South Korea and New Zealand.
Good luck with that.
Wie herself became a constant focus of attention in the golf world after making her LPGA debut at age 12 — and she didn't win an LPGA event until she was 20.
Imagine, then, what this does for Ko, playing in her third LPGA event and taking down 48 of the top 50 tour stars in it.
"To me, winning the U.S. Amateur is much more meaningful as an amateur to win," Ko said.
"I didn't cry after this win, but after that U.S. Amateur one, I did cry. I feel like it was a better win, even though this was so awesome."
One day soon, you would think she'd change her mind about that.
Is it because she's so young that she doesn't realize what this victory actually means?
Or does it have to do with how grounded she is? That certainly was well-documented throughout her four days on the course here.
"Maybe it's genes from my mom or dad or something," said Ko, with her trademark giggle. "But I just try to stay relaxed.
"I'm (ranked) No. 1 in the world as an amateur, but I don't really think about (it). I just feel like I'm just an athlete playing or doing something that I really love.
"I personally don't think this win is about me," added Ko, admitting she received plenty of help from local caddie Brian Alexander. "I think it's contributed to everyone. You've got your coach, your mom, your parents, your support crew … you need all of them, you know. I want to give my win to them, as well."
Something tells us they'll be plenty of wins to go around for everybody soon enough.
On Twitter: @SUNToddSaelhof