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Ko’s Short Rise To The Top

PARADISE ISLAND, BAHAMAS | It’s only a matter of time. In fact, the only remaining question is: will Lydia Ko become the No. 1 player in women’s golf before or after her 18th birthday? The 16-year-old has been a professional for fewer than 10 weeks and is already ranked fourth in the Rolex Rankings and moving up fast. And while the months-long storyline of the LPGA Tour has been the battle for the top spot among Inbee Park, Suzann Pettersen and Stacy Lewis, even those players realize that they need to hurry. Once Ko reaches
the top, it won’t be for a week or a month or even a year: she could stay there for a decade or more. Watching Ko methodically pick apart a golf course unpacks memories of Tiger Woods in the early 2000s with one major difference: Ko looks like she’s having a blast on and off the course. At the Pure Silk Bahamas LPGA Classic, an event in which she finished T7 at 15-under par, she seemed almost giddy at having been paired with Lewis for the first two rounds. “I think it’s great to be paired along with the world’s greatest players, and just to be able to see it is a plus,” Ko said, wide-eyed with wonder. When Lewis heard those comments she shook her head and laughed. “It’s unbelievable,” she said. “I don’t understand. She must not think she’s very good or something. Gosh, when she gets some confidence and really figures this out, watch out for the rest of the tour.” There are quite a number of things that Ko has already figured out. Her maturation process in the last 12 months has been astonishing, highlighted by the fact that she continued to play so well in the Bahamas after turning pro, hiring an agent, changing instructors and getting a bag full of new clubs, all since Thanksgiving. Any one of those changes could have sent her into a tailspin, as a mangled trail of pros can attest.


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