A new golf prodigy has arrived on the scene. Korean-New Zealander Lydia Ko won the CN Canadian Women's Open on the U.S. LPGA Tour in Vancouver on Tuesday by shooting a 13-under 275 over four rounds.
In doing so, she became the youngest ever winner of the tournament at the tender age of 15 years, 4 months and 2 days, breaking the previous record set by American Lexi Thompson 11 months ago when she was 16.
Ko is the fifth amateur golfer to win an LPGA title to date, and the first in 43 years since JoAnne Carner did so in 1969 at the Burdine's Invitational.
Ko raced ahead of leading pro golfers like runner-up Park In-bee, who finished at 10-under, and joint-third-place finishers Choi Na-yeon, Shin Ji-yai, and Chella Choi, who were all a further two strokes back.
As amateur golfers are not allowed to collect any prize money, the winner's purse of US$300,000 went to Park.
Ko ranks as the world No. 1 amateur female golfer. At the age of 14 years, 9 months and 5 days, she became the youngest person in the world ever to win a professional event at the Bing Lee Samsung Women's New South Wales Open on the Australian LPG Tour in January.
She was also the highest-ranked amateur golfer at last month's U.S. Women's Open, where she finished with a share of 39th place, and won the U.S. Women's Amateur Golf Championship on Aug. 12.
Ko, who attends Pinehurst School in Auckland, New Zealand, was born in Seoul in 1997. She first visited Australia when she was six to see her aunt. The gift she received from the trip, a pair of toy clubs including a 7-iron and a putter, marked the start of her dizzying love affair with the sport.
Ko's parents, who soon recognized her talent, immigrated to New Zealand and found a home in front of a golf course. Ko started competing at the age of nine, and soon conquered the junior golf circuit, being selected for New Zealand's national team in 2010. She now has a string of records to her name based on her youthful achievements.
Ko plans to compete in the British Open and the World Amateur Golf Team Championship next month, and return to school in October. "I won't turn pro for the time being. I will study hard so that I can go to Stanford," she said.
Ko will return to Korea this week, her first homecoming since she left the country in 2003.
When she won the U.S. Women's Amateur Championships two weeks ago, she said, "Mom said that if I win, she'll find a way for me to meet actor So Ji-sub in Korea. That has given me an extra incentive." Ko will reportedly meet with So later after her aunt made all the necessary arrangements.