Teenager star Ko wins NZ Women’s Open
It’s hard to believe she’s still only 15.
Yet New Zealand’s budding superstar Lydia Ko, one-stroke winner of last weekend’s New Zealand Women’s Open, has now won on three major golf tours of the world – and against some of the best players in the game.
The normally unflappable Ko actually shed a tear after holing a clutch one-metre putt at the last hole at the Clearwater Resort just out of Christchurch to beat American Amelia Lewis by a shot with Australian Stacey Keating a shot further back in third place.
Lydia Ko – Winner of the 2013 NZ Women’s Open (Credit: NZ Golf)
Amazingly, in the past 13 months, Ko has become the youngest winner of a professional event, man or woman, at last year’s New South Wales Open at Oatlands, then 14, the youngest winner on the LPGA Tour with her Canadian Open victory, and, finally the youngest winner on the European Tour with her New Zealand victory.
Already ranked No. 38 in the world, Ko admitted that in her final-round 68 she fell for the trap of watching the leaderboard – all too often.
“Where ever I was putting I saw the leaderboard,” she said.
“On the back nine every time I looked up I saw it and I thought please don’t have the leaderboard on this side.”
Ko nailed a vital fifth birdie of the day on the 15th hole to draw level with Lewis, before Keating’s chances slipped away when she three-putted the final hole to drop out of contention.
Lewis, safely on the final green in two, then three-putted also as the young New Zealander watched on from the right-hand rough.
She worked her approach to within 25-feet of the hole, left her first putt an agonising metre past the hole but calmly slotted the putt amid roars from the massive gallery that encircled the final green.
The normally unflappable Ko actually shed a tear as she walked off the final green.
“I didn’t know what happened on the final hole,” she said.
“My caddy said I had two putts to win and I thought, ‘oh god’. I hit on in two but having that 10m putt actually made me more nervous.”