x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

A 15-year-old amateur KOs LPGA field and it's a good thing

There is a double-edge element to the success of 15-year-old Lydia Ko, a native of South Korea who lives in New Zealand, explains Steve Elling.

Lydia Ko, 15, plays in New Zealand by way of South Korea.
Lydia Ko, 15, plays in New Zealand by way of South Korea.

Last weekend, 15-year-old amateur Lydia Ko once again bested a field of professional players, beating a handful of familiar global veterans in New Zealand.

Remarkably, it was Ko's third victory against the professionals in 13 months, including last summer's Canadian Open win, versus the best players in the game.

In Canada, she became the youngest to win an LPGA event by more than a year, and given her success, continues to bring needed eyeballs to the women's game.

But therein lies the rub, though it is more of a minor friction burn.

What is best for the game as a whole might not be optimal for the reputation of the professional tours.

There is a double-edge element to the success of Ko, a native of South Korea who lives in New Zealand. Last weekend, she beat proven LPGA winners Christina Kim, Marja Hjorth, Julieta Granada and Laura Davies.

The pros: "The fact of the matter is, the girl is damned talented in a way that we haven't seen in many years," Kim told The National, noting that Ko's success might prompt more girls to take up the game.

The cons: "It may make the pros look like muppets and makes the game look so easy to the outsider. But I think it's great, bottom line," Kim said.

It is agreed. Sure, the success of an amateur who does not yet have a driver's licence might make the tour talent pools look shallow, but at least fans are dipping a toe in the water and presumably, paying attention to the temperature.

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