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Ko Opts Out, Takes Next Step

She has no perspective, but most prodigies don’t. Mozart couldn’t have known that his teenage compositions would be considered masterpieces two centuries later, and Bobby Fischer admittedly didn’t grasp how extraordinary his achievements were at age 14. Picasso, Beethoven, Ricky Skaggs: None of them had a clue. Part of their genius resided in the purity and “Hey, it’s no big deal” innocence of their youth. Lydia Ko is right there with them. With all due respect to Guan Tianlang, Tiger Woods, Matteo Manassero, Rory McIlroy and Young Tom Morris, the 16-year-old New Zealander is the greatest teenage golfer in history. She has four professional wins, a U.S. Women’s Amateur, 15 professional cuts and a runner-up finish in a major, and she is still a year-and-a-half away from getting her high-school diploma. Her game is extraordinary – a combination of Nick Faldo grit and Al Geiberger beauty – but on the flip side, Ko still has the developing mind of a child, one that soon will be thrust into the emotionally demanding world of professional sports. A day after her runner-up finish at the Evian Championship, she told numerous outlets that she likely will turn pro by the beginning of next year. But just a few days before arriving in France, she told me, “I want to go to college. I’m not going to jump out of school just for golf. I’m going to finish high school and we’re thinking about when is the right time to turn pro.” Like most kids, she can change her mind about life-altering events with no more thought than most adults give to what they’re going to eat for lunch.


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