by Jeff Skinner
One of the most remarkable stories of this young golf season started to write another chapter yesterday. Down under at the LPGA’s 2013 opening tournament fifteen year old, amateur Lydia Ko continued her amazing run with a ten under par first round to take a one stroke lead at the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open.
The South Korean born New Zealander is fresh off her win at the New Zealand Open and on a run that many professionals would gladly sell their soul for. Last Sunday’s win was her third professional win in the past year and vaulted her to 30th in the Rolex World Rankings.
Her streak started last year at the New South Wales Open when she became the youngest player ever to win a professional event. She followed that up with a win at the LPGA’s Canadian Open to claim the title of youngest winner on the LPGA from Lexi Thompson.
And she is an equal opportunity winner as she beats pros and amateurs alike. Last summer she beat all the amateurs when she won the U.S. Women’s Amateur. This is a spell reminiscent of Bobby Jones.
Teamed with superstar and world number one Yani Tseng and former teenage phenom, Michelle Wei, Ko showed little sign of nerves. After an opening bogey on the 10th hole she birdied four straight and then eagled the 15th. With only three pars on her card all day it was a birdie fest as she made he way around the par 73 Royal Canberra Golf Club.
At day’s end she had carded three bogeys, three pars, eleven birdies and an eagle. Averaging over 244 off the tee she hit 12 fairways and 14 greens in regulation. Besides great ball striking and superb approach shots the secret to Ko’s low round was her putter. She used only 21 putts to get her into the lead.
How many times have we heard the likes of Dave Stockton, Phil Mickelson, Bob Rotella and all the rest say to try and putt “like you did when you were a kid.” Well here’s proof. Ko is a kid and she has found the magic formula: play like a pro and putt like a kid.
It may only be the first round but for Ko to be able to perform in this spotlight with Tseng and Wei beside her speaks to the confidence and the attitude of this youngster.
This is a fun ride and we all should enjoy it while it lasts.