Golf’s teenage phenomenon, Lydia Ko, continues to break records at a rate that even a young Tiger never quite managed, becoming world number one at just 17
New Zealand sensation Lydia Ko has added another incredible accolade to her already impressive list of achievements by becoming the youngest ever world number one in either the men’s or women’s world rankings at just 17 years of age, eclipsing previous record-holder Tiger Woods by four years.
Ko gave up a four-shot lead to slip to joint 2nd in this week’s LPGA season-opening Coates Championship, but the points she gained were still sufficient to see her depose Inbee Park at the pinnacle of the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings.
Tiger was 21 when he first reached the top of the men’s game in 1997, going on to top the rankings for 683 weeks in total, including 281 consecutive weeks between 2005 and 2010. The previous youngest female number one was South Korean Jiyai Shin who reached the top in 2010 aged 22.
Ko is just the ninth woman to reach the top of the ladies’ rankings, which have been in existence since 2006. Annika Sorenstam and Lorena Ochoa dominated proceedings for the first four years, before Cristie Kerr, Ai Miyazato and Jiyai Shin then shared the honours for a while. Yani Tseng then took control for a couple of years, and for the last two it has been Stacy Lewis and Inbee Park fighting it out at the top until Ko just edged ahead this week.
Ko became the youngest winner of an LPGA Tour event in the Canadian Women’s Open in August 2012 at the age of 15 while still an amateur, an event she successfully defended the following year while also still an amateur. In between, she also won the Women’s New Zealand Open on the Ladies’ European Tour. Indeed, she played 25 pro events in total while still an amateur and never missed a cut, climbing to world number five before she turned pro in October 2013. Since then she has added three more LPGA titles, finishing 3rd on the 2014 money list in her first full season as a professional.
The question, of course, now is that if she has achieved all this four years before she’s old enough to drink in the States, just what might she achieve throughout her career? The world does, indeed, appear to be her oyster…