Lydia Ko in marquee group at Aussie Open

FRED WOODCOCK
Last updated 12:01 13/02/2013
Lydia Ko
Photosport
RAPID RISE: New Zealand is witnessing the emergence of the future star of international women's golf.

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Kiwi golf phenom Lydia Ko will play alongside world No 1 Yani Tseng and former teen queen Michelle Wie during the opening two rounds of the Australian Open in Canberra, starting tomorrow.

Highlighting just how high her stocks are in world golf, the 15-year-old New Zealander has been included on the big marquee grouping when the LPGA Tour season opens at Royal Canberra Golf Club in Yarralumla.

Ko, the world No 1 amateur, has climbed to No 30 in the overall world rankings on the back of her one-shot victory at the New Zealand Open at Clearwater in Christchurch on Sunday, her third win in just 12 professional tournament starts.

She will go off with Tseng, from Taiwan, and American Wie at 11.10am tomorrow (NZT) in the $US1.2 million, 72-hole tournament.

Unlike the New Zealand Open, which was co-sanctioned between the Australian and European Tours, the Australian Open is co-sanctioned between the Australian, European and United States tours, meaning the cream of the LPGA Tour are Down Under for the first tournament of their season, although 32 LPGA Tour players were at Clearwater last week.

The quality of the field will not worry Ko, who has already won on the world leading LPGA Tour when she stormed to victory at the $US2 million Canadian Open last year, a field that included 19 of the top 20 ranked professional golfers in the world.

Stacy Lewis, the 2012 LPGA Player of the Year, will go off with Australian favourite Karrie Webb and defending champion Jessica Korda, also of Australia, while world No 7 So Yeon Ryu and No 8 Jiyai Shin are in the field this week.

The other Kiwis in the field are European Tour pros Lynnette Brooky and Cathryn Bristow. 

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- Fairfax Media

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