One look at Lydia Ko, and you might not guess that this unassuming young woman is one of the top players in professional golf today.
The Korean-born, New Zealander just turned 17 on Sunday when she claimed victory at the Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic. Shortly before that, Ko was included in Time Magazine’s Top 100 Most Influential People in the World.
While this is Ko’s third win in the LPGA, it is the first time that she's been allowed to collect money for her efforts (amateur golfers don't win prize money). To add to her already stellar career stats, her recent win is her sixth in worldwide professional golf events.
— Callaway Golf (@CallawayGolf) April 28, 2014
Ko had to go through some off-target drives during her last LPGA tournament, but she focused as she hit a perfect 6-foot birdie in the final hole for her first LPGA Tour win as a professional golfer. Ko beat 29-year-old American golfer Stacy Lewis and fellow Korean Jenny Shin and went on to win third place in the tournament.
In a post-match interview, Ko said that she could not have had a “better birthday week” after her win, and that her birthday can be considered “sweet 17”.
The victory earned Ko a total of $270,000 worth of winnings. Three days after her actual birthday, the gallery sang “Happy Birthday” at the first tee box.
Born in Seoul, South Korea and raised in North Harbour, New Zealand, Lydia Ko was the top-seeded female amateur golfer in the world for a total of 130 weeks before finally turning pro in October of 2013. She earned the title of youngest person to ever win a pro golf tour event, as well as the youngest golfer to ever win an LPGA tour event.
— Swinging Skirts LPGA (@SwingingSkirts) April 28, 2014
Ko’s exposure to the game of golf started when she was five years old. In an article by Time Magazine, eight-time holder of the LPGA Tour Player of the Year title Annika Sorenstam called Ko an “exceptionally talented” player who is “mature beyond her years”.
Lydia Ko's post win interview
Image via YouTube