Lydia Ko had an interesting day on Thursday. She turned 17, and shot a 68 at the Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic near San Francisco to sit tied for second after the first round. And, oh yeah, she was named to Time Magazine's 2014 list of the world's 100 most influential people.
The fast-rising star is the second youngest person on the list, behind only Malala Yousafzai, the 16-year-old torchbearer for girls' education in Pakistan. She joins pop singer Lorde as the only two New Zealanders to be selected. And she is one of only five athletes, along with tennis player Serena Williams, Seattle Seahawks defensive back Richard Sherman, basketball player Jason Collins, and soccer player Cristiano Ronaldo.
One category in which Ko has plenty of company is women -- there are a record 41, from Beyonce (who played a little golf herself recently) to Hillary Clinton, on the list this year.
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"Lydia Ko is exceptionally talented, mature beyond her years and well liked by golf fans and competitors alike," Annika Sorenstam wrote in support of Ko. "She is responsible for sparking increased interest in our sport not just in her native South Korea and adopted homeland of New Zealand but also among juniors across the globe.
"Her early, record-breaking success brings with it incredible pressure --- and she's doing a fantastic job handling the many responsibilities that accompany stardom."
Ko turned professional last fall after an unprecedented amateur creer in which she was the world's top-ranked amateur and a two-time winner on the LPGA Tour. She is already up to fourth in the Rolex Women's Rankings.
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- Lydia Ko
- Malala Yousafzai