Lydia Ko, a 15-year-old native of South Korea who moved to New Zealand at age six, won the U.S. Women's Amateur golf championship two weeks ago. Following that victory she was given an opportunity to play in the 2012 CN Canadian Women's Open. As play began at the Vancouver Golf Club, on Thursday, August 23rd, her goals were understandably modest, to make the cut and play her best.
Start of Canadian Open: In Thursday's opening round, Ko posted a four-under par score of 68, good enough to be tied for third place, two shots behind Yani Tseng (the #1 ranked player in the world). Following another 68 on Friday, Lydia was a co-leader in the tournament and the only player to have posted scores in the 60's on both days. Pretty impressive for a 15-year-old amateur, playing against the best players in the world.
Prior Success: 2012 has been an amazing year for Lydia Ko. In addition to her victory in the U.S. Women's Amateur, she was the low amateur in the U.S. Women's Open in July, and won the New South Wales Open (in Australia) in January. Her victory in Australia, at age 14, made her the youngest known winner in a professional event anywhere.
Third Round at Vancouver GC: Beginning the day as a co-leader, in Saturday's third round Lydia finished with an even-par 72. She was not able to match her scores of the first two rounds, but the 8-under par total overall put her name, Lydia Ko, alone at the top of the 54-hole leaderboard. Four players finished the day a single shot behind, with seven others within four shots of her lead.
JoAnne Carner: The last time an amateur won an LPGA event was in 1969 at the Burdine's Invitational. That winner, JoAnne Carner, went on to a career that included 43 LPGA victories, two professional major championships and five U.S. Women's Amateur victories. She is a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame.
Final Round at Canadian Open: Coming to the 10th tee as a co-leader, the question was how well a 15-year-old amateur could hold up against a strong field of experienced professionals. Lydia Ko wasted no time demonstrating what she could do, taking command of the tournament with consecutive birdies on the 10th, 11th, 12th AND 13th holes. Her final round score of 67 matched the low round of the day and clinched the championship. In the end, Lydia Ko had won the championship by a three shot margin.
Congratulations go to Lydia Ko. At 15 years, four months and two days of age, she is the youngest winner ever on the LPGA Tour. In addition, she becomes the first amateur to win since JoAnne Carner in 1969.
Harold Andrews has played golf (competitively and recreationally) for nearly 50 years. He considers Jack Nicklaus the greatest golfer of all time.