Korean born, New Zealand citizen, Lydia Ko is again ranked the number 1 female professional golfer in the world. The first time she achieved the top ranking was on the 2nd of February 2015 when she was just 17 years old, making her the youngest player of either gender to be ranked No. 1 in professional golf. However, in the past five years she slipped to just 59th in world ranking. Many thought her career was over but Lydia persisted and this year, she again reached no1 in the golfing world.

“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 said when she first reached No1..

(Sky Sports)


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

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. That same year, Time Magazine included Lydia Ko in their list of the 100 Most Influential People of the Year.

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. In 2016, she was named ‘Young New Zealander of the Year’.

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.  By July 2016, Lydia had earned just over 7 million dollars from her playing skills.  

The winning continued on 20th August 2016 when 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 asked if they felt more Korean than Kiwi. Lydia became a naturalized New Zealander when she was 12.

Lydia grew up on Auckland’s North Shore, not far from where singer Lorde grew up. 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 pushy mother entered Lydia in the New Zealand National Amateur Golf Championship.


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 am 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 appreciated by her fellow countrymen.


To celebrate turning 17, she ditched her glasses as she felt it was time to update her image. She said at the time it was hard to act as a teenager when all the people she played with were old enough to be her parents or grandparents.

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 admitted she would love to have had a boyfriend but golf took 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. However, now 25 years old, she is engaged to a Korean boy and they plan to marry in Korea next month.


Lydia has spent a total of 104 weeks at the top over the course of her career, the fourth-highest in rankings history. With the five year victory drought, no player in history has gone longer than Ko between stints at No. 1 – a testament to her resiliency. Her 2022 comeback season was capped off by a win at the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship, her third victory of the season. She won LPGA Player of the Year, Vare Trophy for low scoring average (68.99) Her season-long scoring average is the second-lowest Vare Trophy-winning in Tour history worth $6,808,407 New Zealand dollars. On top of this, she also claimed a $3,119.000 first-place prize at the CME, the richest check in the history of women’s golf. Her scoring average was the second-lowest in LPGA history.

Lydia Ko went through a long, five-year dark patch where she struggled to play good golf but persistence paid off, and she has now returned to her winning ways, a lesson to us all to never, never give up on our dreams. Lydia has earned $19,318,597.36 NZ dollars in prize money – an incentive to keep going for sure!!

Ceidrik Heward

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