Lydia Ko of New Zealand, the world's No. 1-ranked female golfer according to the World Amateur Golf Ranking supported by The R&A and USGA, became the first Kiwi in 23 years to win the Australian Women’s Amateur Championship on Sunday at Woodlands Golf Club in Melbourne. The last New Zealander to win this title was Jan Higgins in 1989.
The 14-year-old Ko, who shared stroke-play medalist honors at last year’s U.S. Women’s Amateur at Rhode Island Country Club with Korea’s Jihee Kim before losing to Stephanie Kono in the second round, defeated Australia’s Breanna Elliott, 4 and 3, in the 36-hole final. Elliott also competed in last year’s U.S. Women’s Amateur, advancing to match play despite having to use borrowed clubs for the first round of qualifying.
“It feels pretty amazing and it feels great that I came further than I did last year,” said Ko, who also became the youngest winner of this prestigious competition. “So I’m pretty proud of myself.”
By winning the championship, Ko earned an exemption into next month’s LPGA Tour season-opening ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open at Royal Melbourne Golf Club. Last year, Ko three-putted the 72nd hole at the New South Wales Open in Sydney to lose by one stroke to LPGA Tour and Ladies European Tour player Caroline Hedwall of Sweden.
Ko, the recipient of the inaugural Mark H. McCormack Medal for being ranked No. 1 at the end of last season in the WAGR, remains unfettered by the lofty rankings or expectations.
“I’ve worked hard to become world No. 1,” she said. “It’s an honor to be up there and there are so many other good players. Some people say you’re world number one and you should shoot under par every time and I don’t think that’s the case. I think it’s more about consistency.”
Information in this report compiled by Jim Nugent of Global Golf Post. To subscribe go to http://www.digital.globalgolfpost.com