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Lydia Ko becomes the youngest LPGA millionaire

Posted July. 22, 2014 06:17,   


A teenage girl is rewriting the history of golf. It is Lydia Ko (Ko Bok-keong), a Korean New Zealander dubbed "Golf sensation." The 17-year-old clinched the trophy with 15-under 269 overall at the Marathon Classic of the LPGA Tour held at Highland Meadows Golf Club (par 71) in Sylvania, Ohio in the U.S. on Monday.

Ko had ranked fifth with two-par difference until the previous day, but she garnered six birdies without committing a single bogey on the day, to achieve upset win in the tournament. Having received 210,000 U.S. dollars in prize money from the latest event, Ko has become the youngest golfer at the age of 17 years and two months and 26 days to top 1 million dollars in total prize money by earning 1.06 million dollars (ranking third overall in prize money) in LPGA history. The previous record was held by Lexy Thompson of the U.S., who was 18 years, seven months and five days.

In an interview after winning the championship, Ko said with a laugh, “ I’m not going to spend $1 million and buy something like a diamond ring or whatever. I think it’s $10 per under par I shoot. I guess finishing 15-under is $150 extra." She added, “Maybe I might get something electronic. I do kind of what the teenager thing does and be excited when you get pocket money or extra money in your wallet. When I`m off the course I like to spend a lot of time on my computer. That`s why maybe I`m this blind.” Despite being highly decisive and determined on the golf course, Ko was apparently no different from ordinary teenage girls off the course.

Ko shined out with her signature spirit of adventurer, who is not swayed even in crises despite her young age. When Ko was tying for first overall at Hole 18 (par 5), she played the third shot to place the ball to a location 1.2 meters off the pin, before garnering birdie. She displayed high sense of accuracy in measuring distance. She mastered it by playing 30 balls each on the white, blue and black tee at a par 3 hole at a golf course near her home with her father since young. As Ryu So-yeon, who was ranking second overall by one-par difference, failed in her 2-meter birdie putt at the last hole, Ko confirmed her victory.

Ko, who has set the record of becoming the youngest golfer to win the title at LPGA and the European tours, swept the Canadian Women’s Open for two consecutive years in 2012 and 2013. Even before turning pro in October last year, she already had four wins in professional golf tournaments. She embarked on this season’s tour in earnest, securing two career titles. She has displayed stable and constant performance, as evidenced by zero-elimination at the preliminary of a pro event. Currently ranking second in the world, she is eying the first place in global rankings.

Ko first played golf at age five and had 130 pars on her first rounding on the 48th day after starting golf. Having immigrated into New Zealand with her family at age eight, she improved her golfing skills by banking on a unique coaching method provided by her father Ko Gil-heung, a former elite tennis player. Her mother, Hyeon Bong-sook, used to serve as her caddie.