KO SHOW CONTINUES

23/04/2011

Lydia Ko is the first woman to win the New Zealand Strokeplay and the Australian Strokeplay titles in the same year after an emphatic nine shot win today at the Russley Golf Club in the centenary of the national event.

The World No.3 amateur took a five shot lead into the final round and was never in danger of losing the tournament to her good friend and closest rival Cecilia Cho (76) in fine conditions in Christchurch.

Ko was seven ahead walking up the 18th fairway and added the exclamation mark to her performance with a great putt for eagle.

“I wanted to make that birdie putt on the 16th but I guess that one made up for it,” said Ko who carded a two under par 72 in the final round.

“It seems like a lot to win by nine shots but it didn’t feel that easy, especially after yesterday where I lost the lead and didn’t play well.

“I played much better today and I felt really relaxed throughout the round– it was nice to win.”

The Aussie Strokeplay Championship did not start until 1992, the New Zealand Strokeplay in 1911, and New Zealand has had a few winners but no-one before Ko had achieved the rare double in 19 years.

In 1993, Lynnette Brooky claimed the Australian strokeplay, and Pam Sowden the New Zealand title, in 2005 Sarah Nicholson won the Aussie title and Sharon Ahn was the New Zealand winner and last year Cho won in Australia before Caroline Bon claimed the NZ Strokeplay title.

“The win in Aussie was pleasing because it was a very international field and the competition was strong and I am happy to win by so many here.”

No Australian player has ever struck the double either making the 13-year-old’s achievement – which also includes the North Island – New Zealand strokeplay double – even more remarkable.

Asked if she is getting used to rewriting records she said “yeah, kind of, I just try and win golf tournaments.”

It has been a golden run for the Srixon Academy member in recent weeks.

She has won the Australian Strokeplay title at Huntingdale in a playoff from Cho and then beat her by one shot at the North Island Strokeplay at Whitford Park in April.

Ko, who turns 14 tomorrow, is no stranger to rewriting history.

She announced her arrival on the world stage last year when she became the youngest player to make a cut on the Ladies European Tour at the Pegasus New Zealand Women’s Open where she finished T7th.

Ko backed that up by becoming the youngest golfer to win the Australian Strokeplay and is now the youngest winner of the New Zealand Strokeplay event.

She was the youngest finalist at the New Zealand Amateur in 2009 at the age of 12 and will have another chance to become the youngest champion if she can carry this form on in the matchplay.

“It is nice to win against Cecilia again in a strokeplay event but I want to beat her in the matchplay – I would really like that.”

Back in 2009, Cho won the 36-hole final by 4 and 3 at the age of 14 but was not the youngest champion as Auckland’s Larissa Eruera was three weeks and three days younger than Cho when she won at Taupo in 2006.

“When I was a 12, I didn’t really know what I was doing and it was just fun to play, now I am having more success and I am more confident.”

There is likely to be plenty of interest in the final as the crowds could witness the crowning of the youngest winner of the New Zealand Amateur – a championship that has been contested since Mrs Lomax Smith won at Dunedin in 1893.

Cho, who successfully defended her title last year at Bridge Pa in Hastings, is also hoping to rewrite the record books.

She’ll attempt to become the first woman to win the New Zealand Amateur title three times in a row since Miss Kate Rattray from the Otago Golf Club.

Rattray won the event three times in succession in 1898 (Dunedin), 1899 (Hutt) and 1900 (Christchurch).

“I am not too confident but I will change a few things and I should be fine,” said Cho.

“I need to work harder because this matchplay event means a lot to me, I like the strokeplay but I have a better record in the matchplay and I’d love to win three in a row.”

Cho is likely to face Srixon Academy member Emily Perry in the second round tomorrow.

“On this course you need to hit it straight so I guess I have an advantage over her.”

If the centenary of the New Zealand Strokeplay is anything to go by then after Perry she will have a familiar foe standing in the way as both Cho and Ko chase a piece of New Zealand Golf history.

 

    OOM LEADERBOARD

    RANK PLAYER SCORE
    1 Clarke, Dale 96.00
    2 Curnow, Brent 48.00
    2 Millington, Douglas 48.00
    4 Cormack, Matthew 25.92
    4 Wilson, Mike 25.92

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