Lydia Ko continues to amaze. She just turned 17 this week (“I’ve been 16 for a long time”) and after Sunday’s 1-shot win at the Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic at the Lake Merced Golf Club in Daly City (San Francisco), California, she is already ranked the No. 2 player in the world. And beyond that, she was also named one of Time Magazine’s Top-100 Most Influential People in the World. She was so cute about that:
“Yeah, you know, top-100 most influential people, I don’t know what I’ve done to get there, but, yeah, it’s a very — it’s just a really special week for me.”
What else made it a special week for her was that her Dad was able to fly in from New Zealand to see her win:
I’m going to cry now. All the tears are gone. Yeah, it’s very special to have him here. It’s his second LPGA tournament he’s watched. Last week was a tough week for me [LPGA Lotte Championship in Hawaii]. I couldn’t really get my putts rolling even if I hit it good.
This week, even if I hit it far away I holed some medium‑, long‑length putts, which kind feels better than having a tap‑in birdie. I think it’s really special him being here. My mom is always going to be with me. She said she would have flown over on Saturday, but luckily she came over earlier to spend the whole week with us.
She started out one shot behind Stacy Lewis and won the tournament because after a lackluster front nine, she reeled of three birdies in the last six holes. That put her at 3-under on the day, while Stacy was only able to manage 1-under.
This was her fifth worldwide victory, her third LPGA victory and her first as an LPGA member. Commissioner Mike Whan granting Lydia membership for the 2014 season is now looking like the easiest decision he ever made. But looking back, it wasn’t; she was just 16 years old.
What’s so exceptional about Lydia is that she has traveled the world with her mother playing significant women’s events and had won four of them by the time she was 16. How many 16-year-olds are anywhere near prepared to exist in that world with such grace and aplomb? It is almost unbelievable and a real testament to how her parents raised her.
Her final round will be remembered for two shots she played on 17 and 18. On 17 her tee shot in the right rough left her unable to spin her approach shot, so the ball bounded up the slopping green and off the back. She hit a little bunt pitch shot that hit her spot and slowly rolled all the way back down for a kick-in par. And on 18, her third shot to the par 5 from the left rough required a blind shot that hit on the front so that it stayed under the hole. That solid birdie putt won the tournament for her.
But it was also her ability to remain calm in the caldron of the last group. This is a very sophisticated young lady:
So normally I’m really confident with my driver, but I was overly confident with that. No, I was more concentrating on my game rather than thinking about Stacy’s. I can’t control what the other player is doing. If they make an eagle and I make a par, it’s really out of my hands.
So I tried to kind of calm myself and do as much as I could, you know.
She has played in 9 events this year and made all nine cuts. In addition to her win, she’s had a 2nd, a 3rd, a 7th and two other top 19s. Just remarkable stuff.
Remember the joy we felt when we realized that we were going to be able to watch a young Tiger Woods for a very long time?
I think we’re there with Lydia Ko as well.