Lydia Ko: Why Youngest LPGA Winner Ever Will Be Golf's Next Big Star
For the last few weeks—or even the last few months—Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy have dominated the golf-related conversation.
Now, they'll have to make room for a new star, and one who's unlike any other that we've seen in a long, long time.
On Sunday, after shooting a five-under 67 in the final round of the Canadian Women's Open, 15-year-old sensation Lydia Ko established herself as the youngest winner in LPGA Tour history.
According to the Associated Press, via CBSNews.com, Ko broke the record set last year by Lexi Thompson, who won the Navistar LGPA Classic at the age of 16, and she's the first amateur winner since 1969.
At the conclusion of her weekend, in which she shot a 13-under 275, there were no platitudes where Ko was concerned. There was no infuriating stoicism. Instead, Ko reacted to her win the exact way you'd expect a 15-year-old to reach to a record-setting milestone, and there's nothing more refreshing than that.
Ko told the AP, via Yahoo! Sports:
To break another record, or being in the history, it's amazing, and it's always awesome to be able to play with the pros. The last few holes, it got a bit nerve wracking, but Stacy Lewis, after my birdie on 15, she said, "You know you can do it." It was really great to have another player that I look up to giving me that much support. So it was really awesome.
This isn't even Ko's first brush with excellence: A couple of weeks ago, she won the U.S. Women's Amateur, and though she was able to hold it together after her big win this weekend, she told the AP that emotions got the best of her after that win.
It's fun to root for established veterans like Rory and Tiger. It's fun to see them compete with each other for eternal glory, and it's fun to argue about which one of them will come out on top in the very end when their legacies have been cemented.
But it's refreshing to root for someone like Ko—an unassuming teenager who will savor this win for everything it's worth before moving on to the next. She's a high school student who thinks it's fun to break records, but she's still more focused on getting into Stanford, Tiger's alma mater and her first-choice university.
According to Yahoo! Sports' Jonathan Wall, Ko could've made $300,000 with the win on Sunday. Instead, she wants to be a teenager for a little while longer.
As she told the AP, via CBS News:
I'll still remain an amateur and then finish high school and then go to college. I mean this is a great win, but I don't think this will affect me changing my routes to my career.
Sometimes, it's hard to like Tiger. But it's never hard to like a teenage PGA champion who turns down the opportunity to make thousands of dollars in exchange for the opportunity to finish being a kid.
And when Ko is ready for it, that illustrious professional career will be waiting for her. But for now, there's no reason to rush it and every reason to savor what's happening right now.
Ko has proven she has what it takes to be the next golf superstar. She's just taking her time to get there.
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