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Brent Kelley

15-Year-Old Ko Makes History as Youngest LPGA Winner

By August 26, 2012

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There have been a lot of teen phenoms over the past 10 years of LPGA history. Some of them came close to winning as amateurs - Michelle Wie, Lexi Thompson and Morgan Pressel almost did it, but fell short.

Lydia Ko didn't fall short at the 2012 CN Canadian Women's Open. Ko, age 15, became the youngest winner in LPGA history, and the first amateur to win an LPGA event since 1969.

The youngest winners in tour history are:
  • Lydia Ko - 15 years, 4 months, 3 days (2012 Canadian Women's Open)
  • Alexis Thompson - 16 years, 7 months, 8 days (2011 Navistar LPGA Classic)
  • Marlene Hagge - 18 years, 14 days (1952 Sarasota Open)
  • Marlene Hagge - 18 years, 2 months, 15 days (1952 Bakersfield Open)
  • Paula Creamer - 18 years, 9 months, 17 days (2005 Sybase Classic)
And the five amateurs in tour history who've won are:
  • Lydia Ko, 2012 Canadian Women's Open
  • JoAnne Carner, 1969 Burdine's Invitational
  • Catherine Lacoste, 1967 U.S. Women's Open
  • Pat O'Sullivan, 1951 Titleholders Championship
  • Polly Riley, 1950 Tampa Open
Perhaps even more impressive than Ko winning - which, as I wrote a couple days ago, is not a huge surprise - is the way in which she did it. She seemed completely untroubled by the situation she was in, completely unruffled, totally in control, striping drives down the middle of the fairway until the last hole. Only on her approach into the final green, which Ko jacked well long, did she betray any nerves.

But no worries, because Ko dominated the final round and led by four at that point. She wound up at 13-under 275, three strokes ahead of runner-up Inbee Park.

Ko entered the final round at the CWO leading by one. You expected this 15-year-old to battle nerves? Her final-round 67 tied for low round of the day. Perhaps it helped Ko that she had been in this situation before, once with bad results, once with good. In 2011, at age 14, Ko led by one going to the final hole at the ALPG's New South Wales Open. She 3-putted and lost. But at the same event this year, Ko won, becoming the youngest golfer, male or female, to win a pro tournament on a significant pro tour (one that awards world ranking points).

For the week, Ko posted rounds of 68, 68, 72 and 67. She hit 47 of 60 fairways (15 of 15 in Round 2) and averaged a very good 265 yards off the tee. She struggled on the greens with 35 putts in Round 3, but needed only 26 in the final round. She hit 16 of 18 greens in each of the first three rounds and 62 of 72 total. That's what you call a very well-rounded game.

Watching Ko, it's tough to believe she's only 15. But she's been successful for several years now, and is having one heck of a summer: low amateur at the U.S. Women's Open, winner of the U.S. Women's Amateur, and now winner at the Canadian Women's Open.

The victory gets her into the LPGA's season-ending CME Titleholders, and of course, she'll have no trouble getting any sponsor exemption she asks for. Ko will also be playing some on other tours between now and the end of the year; she's heading to Korea (where she was born, although she plays under the New Zealand flag) next week.

Ko has stated her intention to remain an amateur and a desire to go to college. We'll have to see how winning an LPGA tournament affects her thinking on that. If she was playing as a professional, Ko would have earned $300,000 this week. As an amateur, she received a $750 gift certificate for use in the club's pro shop.

Lydio Ko bio and career to date

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