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Brent Kelley

14-Year-Old Wins Women's NSW Open, Breaking Age Record

By January 29, 2012

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Amateur Lydia Ko is only 14 years old, but she's been turning heads for a couple years already. One year ago, in the New South Wales Open on the ALPG Tour, Ko finished one stroke behind the winner, Catherine Hedwall.

That was Hedwall's first victory as a pro, and Hedwall went on to win the LET Rookie of the Year Award.

This year, Ko made sure not to fall just short. At age 14, she won the title at the New South Wales Open by four strokes over runner-up Becky Morgan.

In so doing, Ko became the youngest-ever winner - male or female - of a significant professional tournament. The previous youngest winner of a women's tournament was Amy Yang, who was 16 1/2 when she won the LET- and ALPG-sanctioned ANZ Ladies Masters in 2006.

The previous overall recordholder was Ryo Ishikawa, who was 15 years, 8 months old when he won the Munsingwear Open KSB Cup on the Japan Tour in 2007.

The 2012 NSW Open didn't have the strongest field, but there were "name" players: Ko beat Lindsey Wright by five, Katherine Hull by six, Melissa Reid by 13 and Laura Davies by 14.

Ko had rounds of 69, 64, and 69, to finish at 14-under 202.

Not surprisingly, Ko is the No. 1-ranked amateur in women's golf. Earlier this month, she became the first-ever golfer to hold the women's Australian Amateur, New Zealand Amateur, Australian Strokeplay and New Zealand Strokeplay titles simultaneously. Her current handicap is +5.5, according to her website.

Ko was born in Korea but her family moved to New Zealand in 2003 to find better weather in which Ko could practice golf. According to an Associated Press article, Ko will play in about 30 tournaments this year. Most of those will be amateur events, but she will be playing the Australian Masters and LPGA Australian Open over the coming two weeks.

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