NEW ZEALAND’S YOUNG SUPERSTAR: LYDIA KO

“I’m proud to be a New Zealander and I get the feeling New Zealand is proud of me. It’s kind of a nice circle which goes round.” Lydia Ko..

Lydia was nominated ‘New Zealand Sportswoman of the Year’ three years in a row from 2013 to 2015 and won New Zealand’s Halberg Supreme Award in 2013.

This year she was named ‘Young New Zealander of the Year’.

LIST OF ACHIEVEMENTS

Check out this selected list of sporting achievements folks. There are too many to mention them all: Remember Lydia Ko is just 19 years old!

Lydia playing golf

On 29 January 2012, at the age of 14, Lydia became the youngest person to ever win at the New South Wales Women’s Open.  Seven months later she became the youngest winner of an LPGA Tour event when she blitzed the Canadian Women’s Open.

On 10 February 2013,the teen Kiwi golfer became the youngest winner of a Ladies European Tour event. Later that year she became the youngest and only amateur to win two LPGA Tour events.

By November 2014, she was the youngest  ‘Rookie of the Year’ in LPGA history. She also became the youngest player to win 5 events on a major tour with the biggest payout in LPGA history, taking home US$1.5 million. This same year, Time Magazine included Lydia Ko in their list of the 100 Most Influential People of the Year.

WORLD’S #1

On 2 February 2015, Lydia was officially ranked No. 1 in professional golf and in September that year she was the youngest player since 1900 to win a major championship at The Evian Championship. Her closing round of 63 was the record lowest final round in the history of women’s golf majors. To top the year off, she became the youngest winner of the ‘LPGA Player of the Year’ in the 49 year history of the award.  As of 28 July 2016, Lydia has earned just over 7 million dollars from her playing skills.  

The winning continues because on August 20, 2016 she became an Olympic silver medal winner in women’s golf at Rio. She was so excited with her Olympic win, she admitted to wearing the medal around her neck for the rest of the day. “After everything finished on Saturday I watched athletics and all those ceremonies, I couldn’t believe I was on the podium myself a few hours before. Those are the great things about it, the whole vibe and being there with our New Zealand athletes. I thought wow this is the Olympics,” she enthused to a reporter.

Lydia Ko was born in Seoul, South Korea but her parents brought her to New Zealand when she was five. They had planned to settle in Australia but Tina, her mother, admitted she didn’t like it there. The other option was Canada but they are glad they chose New Zealand. “We feel really at home here,” her mother said when recently asked if they felt more Korean than Kiwi. Lydia became a naturalized New Zealander when she was 12.

Like Lorde, another Kiwi teen superstar, Lydia grew up on Auckland’s North Shore. Her aunt Insook Hyon, gave Lydia some golf clubs when the little girl visited her in Sydney. Lydia took the clubs home with her and was encouraged to use them. When her mother noticed Lydia’s ease with using the clubs, she took her five year old daughter to the Pupuke Golf Course club house where she was given golf lessons. Just two years later, her mother entered Lydia in the New Zealand National Amateur Golf Championship.

FAMOUS COMPOSURE

Whenever Lydia appears on television either playing golf or being interviewed, the main thing we all notice is how calm and relaxed she is. Her composure is legendary. I have studied mind control and an sure she is also a practitioner of this powerful discipline. It would seem Lydia spends her entire life hitting the golf courses around the world, but I’m sure she actually finds it therapeutic as she engages her thoughts with her actions.

Although Lydia plans to study psychology (surprise! surprise!) by correspondence from Korea University, she has the mindset of the average kiwi. By that, I mean she isn’t into fuss and ceremony and I feel the kiwi ethic of just getting it done has had an influence on her and has impacted positively on her golfing achievements.

Whenever she is back home in New Zealand, Lydia likes to help fellow Kiwis in any way she can by supporting local sports events and encouraging other young New Zealanders to follow their sporting dreams. In other words, she doesn’t let success go to her head. I think it is for this reason she is so much loved by her fellow countrymen.

OUTSIDE GOLF

When she turned 18, Lydia opened up to the press and said she often looked at girls her age with their boyfriends and wondered how they met. She admits she would love to have a boyfriend but golf takes priority and with the vast amount of travel she does each year, it’s almost impossible to find a boy to share times with, let alone maintain a relationship.

To celebrate turning 17, she ditched her glasses as she felt it was time to update her image. She says it’s hard to act as a teenager when all the people she plays with are old enough to be her parents or grandparents. Lydia does however, keep in close contact with her aunt who no doubt enthusiastically follows the progress of the golfing superstar she is partly responsible for creating.

Winning Olympic Silver