St Andrews, Scotland – New Zealand’s Lydia Ko has become the first female recipient of the Mark H. McCormack Medal, awarded to the top-ranked golfer in the women’s World Amateur Golf Ranking (WAGR).
Today’s medal announcement marks the end of a successful first year for the women’s WAGR, launched in February following the success of the men’s ranking, now in its sixth year.
It is the first time the women’s game has been able to compare amateur player performance in elite competition and it currently includes a calendar of 1,750 counting events with around 3,500 ranked players representing 82 countries.
Ko arrived on the game’s international stage at the age of 12 when she finished leading amateur in the 2010 Pegasus New Zealand Women’s Open. She tied for seventh, and in the process became the youngest woman to make the cut in a Ladies European Tour event. She then narrowly missed becoming the youngest player to win a pro event after missing a putt to make it into a playoff at the 2011 New South Wales Open.
The 14-year-old has continued to break records, becoming the first player to win both the Australian and New Zealand Ladies’ Stroke Play Championships in the same year.
Ko was also co-medalist at the 2011 U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship at Rhode Island Country Club in Barrington this past August before being knocked out in the second round of match play by 2010 USA Curtis Cup member Stephanie Kono, 3 and 2.
A delighted Ko said: “My goal when I started playing golf was to become the best in the world, and this is a tick in the box for sure.
“It is great to follow fellow Kiwi Danny Lee's footsteps. This is a great reward for all the countless hours I and my team put in, and to become the first female, even better. It’s been a huge year for me, one of many firsts, and this is just the cherry on the top. Thank you so much to The R&A and USGA."
The medal, as with the men’s equivalent, won this year by the USA’s Patrick Cantlay, is awarded to the female player ranked number one in the WAGR after the U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship, the last elite women’s WAGR event of the amateur season.
The women’s ranking is quickly catching up with the men’s which now encompasses more than 2,500 counting events and, almost 6,000 players representing 100 countries worldwide.
Today’s announcement follows the first meeting of the WAGR committee since the United States Golf Association (USGA) joined The R&A in overseeing the rankings. Representatives from the European Golf Association and the Ladies’ Golf Union also advise the committee.
During the meeting, a number of procedural and technical changes aimed at enhancing and improving the method of WAGR calculation were agreed. Some of the changes, which came into effect on Nov. 1, include more accurately reflecting a tournament’s strength of field, eliminating divisors for rounds not played, reducing stroke play bonus points for shorter events, and improving methodology for elite team match play events.
USGA Executive Director Mike Davis said: “The USGA was pleased to attend what was a successful inaugural joint meeting of the WAGR committee, working cooperatively with our partners at The R&A in making meaningful enhancements to the world’s most important amateur ranking system for men and women.
“As the first female recipient of the McCormack medal, Lydia Ko has achieved an historic honor in women’s amateur golf. With her boundless talent and dedication to the game, many more are sure to follow.”
R&A Director Mike Tate added: “Lydia Ko has consistently proved throughout the season that she is a golfer of incredible promise and is a worthy winner of the first Mark H. McCormack medal.
“The women’s WAGR, like the men’s, has quickly established itself as a trusted weekly point of reference for players, championship organizers and golf fans alike.”
The World Amateur Golf Ranking (WAGR) was established in 2007 when the men’s ranking was launched. The women’s ranking went live in 2011 and WAGR, which is now administered in partnership with the United States Golf Association, has quickly become recognized as the world’s pre-eminent amateur golf ranking system, with numerous event organizers using it as an entry criterion for their events. WAGR, which updates every Wednesday at noon GMT, encompasses a rolling 52-week period and any elite competition played over a minimum of three rounds is eligible for inclusion.
The Mark H. McCormack Medal
The award is named after Mark H. McCormack, the late founder of sports marketing company IMG and an avid supporter of amateur golf. The women’s Mark H. McCormack Medal is awarded to the player ranked number one in the World Amateur Golf Ranking after the U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship. Established in 2007, the same award goes to the player leading the men’s ranking after the European Amateur Championship or U.S. Amateur Championship, whichever concludes the last.
Previous men’s winners: 2011 Patrick Cantlay (USA), 2010 Peter Uihlein (USA), 2009 Nick Taylor (CAN), 2008 Danny Lee (NZL), 2007 Colt Knost (USA).
Based in St Andrews, The R&A organizes The Open Championship, major amateur events and international matches. Together with the United States Golf Association, The R&A governs the game worldwide, jointly administering the Rules of Golf, Rules of Amateur Status, Equipment Standards and World Amateur Golf Rankings. The R&A’s working jurisdiction is global, excluding the United States and Mexico.
The R&A is committed to working for golf and supports the growth of the game internationally and the development and management of sustainable golf facilities. The R&A operates with the consent of 143 organizations from the amateur and professional game and on behalf of over thirty million golfers in 128 countries.
About the USGA
The USGA conducts the U.S. Open, U.S. Women’s Open and U.S. Senior Open, as well as 10 national amateur championships, two state team championships and international matches. Together with The R&A, the USGA governs the game worldwide, jointly administering the Rules of Golf, Rules of Amateur Status, Equipment Standards and World Amateur Golf Rankings. The USGA’s working jurisdiction comprises the United States, its territories and Mexico.
The USGA is a global leader in the development and support of sustainable golf course management practices. It serves as a primary steward for the game’s history and funds an ongoing “For the Good of the Game” grants program. Additionally, the USGA’s Course Rating and Handicap systems are used on six continents in more than 50 countries.
For more information about the USGA, visit www.usga.org.