15-year-old amateur wins Canadian Women’s Open
Fifteen-year-old Lydia Ko, of New Zealand kisses the trophy after winning the CN Canadian Women's Open LPGA golf tournament at the Vancouver Golf Club in Coquitlam, B.C., on Sunday, Aug. 26, 2012.
Published Sunday, August 26, 2012 8:49AM EDT
Last Updated Monday, August 27, 2012 7:34AM EDT
Teen golf sensation Lydia Ko won the Canadian Women’s Open on Sunday, making the 15-year-old the youngest ever winner of an LPGA tournament.
The New Zealander shot a 5-under-par 67 at the Vancouver Golf Club, finishing with a total of 13-under 275. She beat South Korea’s Inbee Park by three strokes.
Still classified as an amateur, Ko could not collect the top prize of $300,000. However, her glove will be showcased in the World Golf Hall of Fame in Florida.
The Hall of Fame requested a souvenir of her history-making win and Ko was thrilled to oblige.
"To have something that's mine to be up there, it's amazing, and it doesn't come down or anything," she said. "So it will always remain there, and it'll be a good memory. It's been an awesome week."
Although Ko is an amateur, LPGA veterans maintained the tradition for first-time tour winners and doused the teen with water.
Yani Tseng, the world no.1, said she was “very impressed” with Ko’s showing.
"I didn't even know what I (was) doing when I (was) 15," said Tseng. "So it's pretty amazing to see her play this good (on) the best stage."
The 23-year-old Tseng was mobbed by fans seeking autographs Sunday. She posted a 2-over 74 on the day, and tied for 35th with a 1-over 289 total.
Earlier on in the tournament Ko told reporters that as an amateur she was not feeling as much pressure as her more seasoned competitors.
"I'm just here for the experience," she said. "But the professionals, on the other hand, it's about how much money they're going to get by each placing."
On Saturday, Ko told Golf Canada that playing with some of the top-ranked players can be nerve wracking, but her main goal at the tournament was to build on her skills and have fun.
“I’m having fun at the moment,” she said. “If I don’t win tomorrow I don’t think I’ll be disappointed and if I do win I’ll take it as an honour.”
Ko said she hopes to turn pro in a couple of years and dreams of attending Stanford University, following in the footsteps of her favourite golfer Michelle Wie.
While Ko is the first amateur to win the Canadian Women’s Open, she’s the fifth amateur to win an LPGA tournament.
Ko is not the youngest golfer to win a professional event, however. That honour belongs to 14-year-old Brooke Henderson of Smiths Falls, Ont., who won a Canadian Women's Tour event in Quebec in June.
Ko was born in South Korea and has called New Zealand her home since she was a youngster. The Canadian tournament win was a continuation of an already sizzling season in which Ko won the U.S. Women's Amateur and a professional tournament in Australia.
With Sunday’s win, Ko qualified for the LPGA's CME Group Titleholders tournament in Naples, Fla., in November.
Ko said she is not sure that she will attend the event, as October and November are months when she typically focuses on academics.
"I need to go to school and stay in New Zealand sometime," she said.
Jessica Shepley of Oakville, Ont., the lone Canadian to qualify for the weekend tournament, posted a 1-over 73 and finished with a 2-over 290.
With files from The Canadian Press