COQUITLAM, British Columbia –- Last January, Lydia Ko became the youngest to win a professional tour event when she captured the New South Wales Open in Australia at 14 years old.
Now 15, Ko has set another age record: the youngest to win an LPGA event – and she did it in impressive fashion.
Ko, the top-ranked amateur in the R&A World Amateur Golf Ranking, shot 13-under 275 to win the LPGA’s Canadian Women’s Open on Aug. 26 at The Vancouver Golf Club. The Auckland, New Zealand native bests Lexi Thompson’s previous record, which she set last year by winning the Navistar Classic at 16.
“It means a lot. It’s a professional event and I just came to make the cut and play my best. And then I won and I get the trophy. It’s amazing. I won the U.S. Amateur two weeks so it’s been a really great couple of weeks,” said Ko.
The 2012 U.S. Women’s Amateur champion, who was recently awarded the Mark H. McCormack Medal for the second year in a row, beat second-place Inbee Park by three shots. Ko held a one-stroke lead after three rounds before carding a final-round, 5-under 67. It was a round highlighted by seven birdies, including four straight to begin the back nine.
“I didn’t cry after this one, but (after) that one I did cry,” Ko said, referencing the U.S. Women’s Amateur. “Yeah, to me, U.S. Amateur is a big event, and obviously this is a huge event as well. But still, as an amateur winning one of the biggest amateur events, I feel like it was a better win — even though this one was awesome.”
Ko also becomes the fifth amateur to win an LPGA event and first since JoAnne Carter won the Burdine’s Invitational in 1969.
Ko, who has expressed her desire to remain an amateur and play in college, laughed about not getting to keep her winnings. But she has come to understand that turning pro can wait.
“When I turn pro I’ll get [to keep] the money, so hopefully I’ll have many wins when I turn pro,” Ko said.
Park collected the first-place prize money, but left impressed by Ko’s ability to stay calm on Sunday.
“The pressure she was handling is really amazing,” Park said. “I’m really happy for her. It’s great for her career — and I think I was just lucky to get the winner’s check today.”