On July 14th, 2020, Lydia Ko surprised LPGA*USGA Girls Golf member Claire Hollingsworth on a Zoom call, which resulted in a blooming mentorship between the 14-year-old and the 15-time LPGA Tour winner. A few weeks later, Ko sent Hollingsworth an autographed pair of shoes, which “made her summer,” according to Claire’s mother. Over the last couple of months, the two have kept in touch, with direct messages and social media check-ins, but the two were reconnected virtually today before the LPGA Drive On Championship – Reynolds Lake Oconee, where Claire’s Drive On story was launched.
Ko said Hollingsworth’s story resonated with the 23-year-old, who had won her first LPGA Tour event at age 15. “It's super cool and I think the big thing is Claire is comfortable in her own shoes. I think that is -- it sounds very easy to be in that position, but I think she obviously is with an awesome family and she is a very awesome girl,” said Ko. “For me to be able to have this little connection with her is a true honor on my part. I see it and it just shows how strong and powerful she is as a girl, but she's a strong and powerful woman. I think it just shows woman empowerment.”
Hollingsworth’s journey to golf began when she was left for adoption ten days after birth in Hunan, China. She was later adopted by a “golf-loving family,” a world away in Memphis, Tenn., and has grown up playing golf at her local Girls Golf site. Ko, who was born in South Korea and grew up in New Zealand, was able to put herself in Hollingsworth’s shoes.
“I feel like I was very fortunate to be involved with two amazing cultures, and now three cultures being here in the U.S., but I think outside of all that, as a teenage girl or in your young teens, you all feel insecure about a few things. Like, man, I don't belong at times or I wish I had this and I don't. Other people just look bigger and better than you,” said Ko. “I've definitely been in that position before. I think the more time that went by and the more time I kind of got to spend on tour with the other ladies, I think I was just able to embrace -- I'm still in the learning process -- but be able to kind of understand and embrace myself. No one is perfect. All you can do is be the best version of yourself and that's it, and have fun during that process.”