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Stats and Stuff: The Young and the Restless

Photo Credit: Harry How/Getty Images

Amateur Lydia Ko of New Zealand smiles as she walks to the 18th green on her way to a three shot victory during the final round of the Canadian Women's Open at The Vancouver Golf Club on August 26, 2012 in Coquitlam, Canada.

August 29 2012, Ward Clayton
The Young and Restless

It seems as if a One Direction concert has broken out in professional women’s golf. When Lexi Thompson won the Navistar LPGA Classic last September at the record low age of 16, she opened the floodgates for teenagers to take the LPGA by storm this year.

Jessica Korda, 18, won the LPGA’s season-opening ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open in February. Lydia Ko, then age 14 years, nine months and five days, became the game’s youngest winner of a professional tournament when the amateur captured the New South Wales Open on the Australian LPGA in late January. Canada’s Brooke Henderson, age 14 years, nine months and three days, topped that when she won a 36-hole tournament on the Canadian Women’s Tour in early June. Then Ko brought even more attention last week by winning the CN Canadian Women’s Open to become the LPGA’s youngest winner. What’s even scarier is that Ko, then age 13, led by one with one hole to play at the 2011 New South Wales Open, but watched as Carolyn Hedwall made a birdie and she three-putted to lose by one stroke.

“I'm definitely missing out on teenager activities,” Ko said. “I'd love to go out on Saturday night with my friends and watch a movie, but that happens really like once a year or a couple times a year. Now I'm realizing golf is like a full-time job, and I'm missing a lot of school.  At this age I should be going to school every day.”           

Ko, born 11 days after Tiger Woods won the 1997 Masters Tournament, said she will remain an amateur and hopes to attend college in the United States. She patterns her game after Michelle Wie and Thompson, both of whom turned pro early. Ko is currently a sophomore in high school in New Zealand, where her family moved from South Korea when she was age 6.

Ko left her family’s home in Auckland, New Zealand, in June to play a summer full of golf. With mother Tina alongside – she caddied for her daughter in the U.S. Women’s Amateur triumph three weeks ago – Ko has stayed busy playing golf. She was scheduled to return to South Korea this week for the first time to visit relatives. She is scheduled to play the Ricoh Women’s British Open Sept. 13-16, the World Amateur Championship in Turkey Sept. 27-30 and then head back home Oct. 3 for the resumption of school. She has not made a decision about participating in the Nov. 15-18 CME Group Titleholders in Naples, Fla., where she earned a spot by winning the CN Canadian Women’s Open.

“I was most impressed with just her demeanor,” said world No. 2 Stacy Lewis, who was paired with Ko in the final group last Sunday. “You would have never known that it was the final round of an LPGA event. She played like she had been there before.”

Ko sent a golf glove to the World Golf Hall of Fame in St. Augustine, Fla., to honor the occasion. She said also looks forward to getting home and watching instructor Guy Wilson live up to his promise if Lydia won an LPGA event – he must bungee jump.

Here’s a look at some age records:

Youngest winners in LPGA Tour history
Player Tournament  Holes Age
Lydia Ko 2012 CN Canadian Women’s Open 72 15 years, 4 months, 2 days
Lexi Thompson 2011 Navistar LPGA Classic 72 16 years, 7 months, 8 days
Marlene Hagge 1952 Sarasota Open 18 18 years, 14 days
Marlene Hagge  1952 Bakersfield Open 18 18 years, 2 months, 15 days
Paula Creamer 2005 Sybase Classic 72 18 years, 9 month, 17 days
Morgan Pressel 2007 Kraft Nabisco Championship 72 18 years, 10 months, 9 days
Jessica Korda 2012 ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open 72 18 years, 11 months, 16 days
Paula Creamer 2005 Evian Masters 72 18 years, 11 months, 18 days
Amy Alcott 1975 Orange Blossom Classic 54 19 years, 1 day


Youngest winners on all Tours

Here’s a look at the youngest winners on various tours, with all but one still playing today:

Player Tour Tournament Age
Brooke Henderson Canadian Women’s Tour 2012 Club de golf Beloeil* 14 years, 9 months, 3 days
Lydia Ko Australian LPGA 2012 New South Wales Open 14 years, 9 months, 5 days
Lydia Ko LPGA 2012 CN Canadian Women’s Open 15 years, 4 months, 2 days
Ryo Ishikawa Japan Golf Tour 2007 KSB Cup 15 years, 8 months
Amy Yang Ladies European Tour 2006 ANZ Ladies Masters 16 years, 6 months, 8 days
Matteo Manassero European Tour 2010 Castello Masters 17 years, 188 days
Jason Day Web.com Tour 2007 Legends Financial Group Classic 19 years, 7 months, 26 days
Johnny McDermott  PGA Tour  1911 U.S. Open 19 years, 10 months, 14 days
*-36 holes.


Amateurs to win an LPGA event
Player Tournament
Lydia Ko 2012 CN Canadian Women’s Open
JoAnne Carner 1969 Burdine’s Invitational
Catherine LaCoste 1967 U.S. Women’s Open
Pat O’Sullivan 1951 Titleholders Championship
Polly Riley 1950 Tampa Open


Stacy Lewis leads Rolex Player of Year standings

Despite not being able to chase down amateur Lydia Ko in the final round of the CN Canadian Women’s Open, Stacy Lewis can take solace that her T6 finish created more distance between her and Yani Tseng in the race for the Rolex Player of the Year honor. Lewis has 146 points to Tseng’s 120.

Lewis, 27, has been ranked first since early June, the first time that Tseng has been fallen from the top spot since early 2011. Points are awarded based on top-10 finishes (30 for first, 12 for second down to one point for 10th) and doubled in the LPGA majors.

The last American to win the Rolex Player of the Year honor was Beth Daniel in 1994.

Shepley low Canadian again

For the second consecutive year, Jessica Shepley earned low Canadian honors at the CN Canadian Women’s Open last week. She finished T41 one year after a T45 finish.

Shepley’s golf is steeped in Canadian history. She started working with eight-time LPGA winner and Canada native Sandra Post when she was in her early teens. After graduating from the University of Tennessee in 2005, Shepley began working with another Canadian instructor, Sean Foley, noted for his recent tutelage of Tiger Woods.

Etc.

The top five finishers in last week’s CN Canadian Women’s Open were all Korean born: Ko (moved to New Zealand at age 6), Inbee Park, Na Yeon Choi, Jiyai Shin and Chella Choi. The last six tournaments have been won by Asian players: Japan’s Ai Miyazato, South Korea’s Na Yeon Choi, South Korea’s Inbee Park, South Korea’s So Yeon Ryu, Japan’s Mika Miyazato and South Korea’s Lydia Ko. … The 2013 CN Canadian Women’s Open will be played Aug. 22-25 at Royal Mayfair Golf Club in Edmonton. Lorena Ochoa won the 2007 tournament at Royal Mayfair. … The LPGA takes this week off and resumes play next week at the Kingsmill Championship in Williamsburg, Va. Cristie Kerr won twice and had five top-six finishes on the River Course at Kingsmill Resort when the tournament was contested from 2003-2009.

Topics: Stats and Stuff

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