Korean New Zealander Golf Sensation Rises to Top Ranks on LPGA at Age 17
kpopluv, Feb. 2, 2015, 10:09 a.m.
Golfing prodigy Lydia Ko became the youngest person ever to top the sport's world rankings as she finished as a runner-up along with Jessica Korda at the season-opening Coates Golf Championship in Ocala, Florida on Saturday.
Ko finished just one stroke behind winner Choi Na-yeon with a 15-under 273 at the inaugural LPGA championship, and the result was enough to lift her one place in the world rankings, putting her clear of Park In-bee.
Since the world ranking system was introduced to women's golf in 2006, Ko is just the ninth player to hold the ranking, following Annika Sorenstam, Lorena Ochoa, Shin Ji-yai, Ai Miyazato, Cristie Kerr, Yani Tseng, Stacy Lewis and Park In Bee.
Born in Seoul on Apr. 24, 1997, Ko immigrated to New Zealand at the age of 6. She was 17 years, nine months and seven days old when she assumed the No. 1 spot on Sunday.
Previously, Shin was the youngest-ever female world No. 1, being 22 years and five days old when she topped the rankings in 2010. In men's golf, the record still belongs to Tiger Woods, who grabbed the top spot in 1997 at the age of 21 years, five months and 16 days.
Ko said that she has risen to the top as she has simply tried to enjoy her golf, adding that she would keep trying to learn and focus on her game, and not think too much about the rankings.
But the pace of Ko's record-shattering rise has indeed been sensational. At the tender age of 14 years and nine months, Ko became the youngest golfer of any gender to win a professional golf competition with her conquest of the 2012 Women's New South Wales Open. In August of that year she won the 2012 CN Canadian Women's Open aged just 15 years, four months and two days, becoming the youngest winner of an LPGA Tour event in history -- and all these records were set before Ko turned professional.
Ko turned professional in October 2013. She claimed another record in July last year when, at 17 years, two months and 26 days old, she became the youngest player on the LPGA to pass the US$1 million (US$1=W1,096) mark in total prize money earned. She then went on to become the youngest ever Rookie of the Year and the first female golfer to make over US$2 million in prize money in their debut season, taking home US$2.08 million.