In June 2008, a 19-year-old South Korean golfer named Inbee Park won her first LPGA Tour event, the U.S. Women’s Open. In doing so, she became the youngest player in history to win the event.
Seven years later, the LPGA has another emerging young star – Lydia Ko.
At just 17-years-old, Ko is a phenom. Here are some of the LPGA Tour records that Ko holds:
- The youngest player of either gender ranked No. 1 in the world at 17 years 9 months 8 days.
- The youngest person to ever win a professional golf tour event at 14 years 9 months 5 days of age.
- The youngest winner of an LPGA Tour event (Canadian Women’s Open) at 15 years 4 months 2 days.
- Only amateur to win two LPGA Tour events – age 15,16 (2012 and 2013 Canadian Women’s Open).
Ko has won 10 professional events. Six of those wins came on the LPGA Tour. LPGA legend Kathy Whitworth holds the all-time record with 88 professional wins.
This week, Ko is looking for her third win in as many weeks at this week’s HSBC Women’s Champions. The New Zealand native has won each of the last two tournaments she has played in, the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open two weeks ago and then her national championship, the Women’s New Zealand Open this past week.
“I have had such a great last two weeks, so obviously there’s expectation,” Ko said of her expectations this week. “You’re world No. 1 and a lot of people think you should win every week because you are, but that’s really not the case. Hopefully I’m going to keep myself cool. I think that’s a big thing here. You can be playing good golf and then just the heat gets to you and start making a couple mistakes. I think I’m going to keep myself cool, try and have some fun. I know that there are some birdie opportunities, but there are some really tough holes out there, so try and balance everything out.”
Is there could stop Ko from shattering every LPGA Tour record in the book? Herself, apparently. Ko said earlier this month that she plans to retire by the age of – 30?
“I say my plan is to retire when I’m 30 so I’m not just going to go to the beach and hang out for the rest of my life. “There’s always a second career that comes along with it and I’m trying to build up towards it and, because I’m playing a sport, psychology links well with it.”
Fortunately, golf fans still have 13 years of watching Ko on tour before she trades in her driver and putter for a notepad and big leather couch.
While Ko has already found more success in her career than most golfers dream of, the real test for her will be at the majors. Ko’s first chance to win one will April’s ANA Inspiration. Lexi Thompson, another emerging superstar, is the defending champion.
Whether Ko wins or not at Mission Hills isn’t the question. The real question is how many she’ll win when it’s all said and done.