Ko swings into action in Australia

FRED WOODCOCK
Last updated 05:00 14/02/2013
Lydia Ko
Photosport
RAPID RISE: New Zealand is witnessing the emergence of the future star of international women's golf in Lydia Ko.

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Lydia Ko does not have a trophy cabinet and she certainly would not have found time to organise one this week after her success at the New Zealand Women's Open.

The 15-year-old golf star was on a plane out of Christchurch 12 hours after her victory at Clearwater, leaving at 6am on Monday, bound for Canberra where she is one of the main attractions at the Australian Open, starting today.

Ko will play alongside world No 1 Yani Tseng and former teen queen Michelle Wie during the first two rounds at the Royal Canberra Golf Club. The Kiwi has been included in the big-name grouping for the LPGA Tour season opener.

The world No 1 amateur, Ko has climbed to No 30 in the overall rankings on the back of her one-shot victory at the New Zealand Open in Christchurch on Sunday.

It was her third win in just 12 professional tournaments, along with two runner-up spots.

She will tee off with Tseng, from Taiwan, and American Wie at 11.10am today (NZ time) in the US$1.2 million (NZ$1.45m), 72-hole tournament. The Australian Open is co-sanctioned between the Australian, European and United States tours, meaning the cream of the LPGA Tour are Down Under.

However, the quality of the field will not worry Ko, who has already won on the world-leading LPGA Tour, storming to victory in the US$2m Canadian Open last year.

"I am pretty excited to play the Australian Open," she said. "It's another LPGA tournament and that will be pretty exciting. I just have to calm myself a bit and start the [tournament] fresh."

American Stacy Lewis, the 2012 LPGA Player of the Year, is in another headline group with Australian favourite Karrie Webb, winner of the Australian Masters a fortnight ago, and defending champion Jessica Korda, also of Australia. Kiwis Lynnette Brooky and Cathryn Bristow will also play.

Meanwhile, Ko will have an eye on the Halberg Awards in Auckland tonight.

She is a finalist for the sportswoman of the year award, alongside Valerie Adams, Lisa Carrington and Sarah Walker and the emerging talent award.

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