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Kiwi Lydia Ko challenges No. 1 Park In-bee

Posted December. 12, 2013 05:35,   


Park In-bee, a Korean golf star, 25, closely saw Lydia Ko of New Zealand, 16, emerge to the top only in two tournaments since her professional debut. Park competed against Ko and Ryu So-yeon, 23, in the final third round of Taiwan’s Swinging Skirts World Ladies Masters of KLPGA on Sunday. It was the first time for Park to play in the same team with Ko.

When Park returned to Korea on Monday, she said, “She (Lydia Ko) was not nervous at all. I couldn’t believe her age. She was young but seemed experienced.” Park added, “There are many teenagers who play a ball in the way they learned. Lydia Ko is mature enough to compete against pro-golfers beyond teenage golfers.”

Park shot a two-under par on the last day of the tournament to finish in third place with four strokes behind Ko. Ko started in second place in the final round with one stroke behind Ryu and even three strokes behind at some point. She caught up with Ryu in the latter of the tournament. Park said, “She (Ko) could have been nervous but she had a poker face. I was surprised. She was excellent in mid-distance putting.” Park said she had little advice to give to Ko and Ko seemed very self-disciplined. Ko starts using a six iron first and carries three hybrids. Park said, “I put a five iron first in the bag because I’m confident in using irons. Lydia was excellent in setting up a ball with a hybrid.”

Park said, “When you become a pro-golfer, you feel pressured about your score. If you have too many thoughts in your mind, you cannot show good performance. Rather than thinking that you’re a pro, you should feel free like an amateur. It is important to withstand external pressure.”

The emergence of a rival challenged Park. She said, “Older golfers can be challenged by many young excellent golfers in LPGA. That’s why I should try harder.”

Park ranked top for 35 straight weeks in women’s world ranking released on that day. Lydia Ko jumped two from last week to rank fourth. Both Park and Ko who will compete in next year’s LPGA tournaments aim at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Can Korea’s Park and New Zealand’s Ko compete for a gold medal? Just imagining it makes many golf fans feel excited.