Ko Makes History At 17

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Ko: The future of women's golf?

Ko: The future of women's golf?

Lydia Ko became the youngest ever golfer to hold top spot in the world rankings after her second place finish at the LPGA Tour's season-opening Coates Golf Championship.

Tiger Woods previously held that record after reaching the summit of the men's rankings in 1997, aged just 21, while the previous record holder in the women's game was Ji-yai Shin, who became World No 1 in 2010 at the age of 22.

But the Korean-born New Zealander smashed both those records by reaching the top spot aged just 17.

Were she allowed to, she might have had a beer to celebrate.

Ko achieved the feat despite a disappointing finish to her final round at the Florida event, which saw her surrender a four-shot lead to finish tied-second behind eventual winner - and good friend - Na-yeon Choi.

At the rate she's going, however, Ko probably needn't worry about the second place finish. She's sure to create many more winning opportunities in a career that has barely even begun.

"It's amazing," she said.

"I didn't really know what I needed to do to get in that position. All I was focused on was trying to play my best out here today," she said. "So it's a huge honour to be in that ranking.

"I'm just going to just focus on my golf, not think about the rankings. The rankings always comes after the results."

In August 2012, Ko wrote her name in the record books for the first time by becoming the youngest-ever winner of an LPGA Tour event in Canada as a 15-year-old amateur.

She then won the New Zealand Women's Open on home soil in early 2013 before returning to Canada to successfully defend her maiden LPGA title.

Ko turned professional in October 2013 and soon confirmed her talent by claiming three more LPGA Tour victories the following year, lifting her up to second in the world rankings prior to the start of the 2015 season.

Now she's reached the rankings summit and, as far as one or two legends of the women's game are concerned, Ko is no flash in the pan.

"No question she is unique," said Kathy Whitworth, 75, whose 88 career victories eclipse any other player on the LPGA or PGA Tour. "Sometimes a special player comes along and you just enjoy them."

Annika Sorenstam, who stayed at the top of the women's world rankings for a record 60 weeks, agreed.

"It's not always about the highs but about the lows, and she's amazing in the consistency she has displayed," said the Swede. "We all know we don't have our 'A game' all the time, and it's about being able to score despite not having our best day. When you watch her, you might not see the fire that's inside, but the consistency is a display of that. You're not that competitive if you don't have that fire inside.

"Lydia doesn't stand as the longest hitter or the one with the best short game, but she's very solid in every area -- she puts it all together. There are some things you can work on, and some things you just have, and there is something special there."

Nancy Lopez, who won 48 times on the LPGA Tour before retiring in 2002, said Ko's confidence seems to come from an effortless simplicity.

"I don't see a mechanical look in her face, like her swing has to be just so. You can tell she knows how to think her way around the course. She doesn't look like she hopes to get it done; she's just going to get it done."

It seems clear that Ko seems destined for very big things indeed, and unless the likes of Stacy Lewis, Inbee Park, Suzann Pettersen and Michelle Wie can step up and challenge her in the near future, the 17-year-old looks set to dominate the women's game for years to come.



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