Chance to meet Korean actor spurs Lydia Ko

HAMISH BIDWELL
Last updated 05:00 14/08/2012
Lydia Ko
HISTORY-MAKER: Lydia Ko with the Cox Trophy after becoming the first New Zealand woman to win the United States amateur championship yesterday, beating America’s Jaye Marie Green in the final.

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Ji Sub So was just about the first thing on Lydia Ko's mind, after she became the first New Zealand woman to win the United States amateur championship yesterday.

Ko beat America's Jaye Marie Green 3 and 1 in the 36-hole final at The Country Club in Cleveland, Ohio, matching a feat achieved by Danny Lee in 2008.

Lee, also South Korean-born, won the US men's amateur as an 18-year-old, to become the youngest man to do so.

But it wasn't her place in New Zealand, or world, golf history that the 15-year-old Ko was thinking about immediately after her triumph. Instead, it was a promise her mother Tina made before the final.

It turns out Mrs Ko said that if Lydia beat Green, she could then meet Ji Sub So, who is her daughter's favourite South Korean actor.

"So after my round it was like ‘OK, I'm going to meet him'. So I think that's the most happiest I am for now," Ko told reporters at The Country Club.

Ko plays at the Canadian Open this week, on the women's pr0ofessional tour, before heading back to South Korea, where a friend of a friend should be able to make an introduction.

"So I think that within a week I'll hopefully be able to meet him. I don't know what my first words are going to be," she said.

With that incentive, Ko said she was never going to lose to Green and that's how it proved. One-up after the first 18 holes, Ko had soon improved that to four-up, before taking the match 3 and 1.

"It means a lot. I haven't won a tournament in the States before, so it's good," Ko said.

Ko created headlines around the world in January when she became the youngest player so far to win a professional tournament, aged just 14. That win, at the New South Wales Open in Australia, and her continued status as the top-ranked amateur player in the world, fuelled speculation that Ko might soon turn professional.

But having secured, arguably, the biggest prize in women's amateur golf yesterday, Ko said she had no plans to join the paid ranks.

"No, I'm not in a hurry . . . I want to go to college, so turning professional isn't a priority.

"Some people say, ‘Oh, do you want to go professional?' And I'm like ‘No' and they're like ‘Really?' But there are so many people in New Zealand that go to college overseas and I think that kind of inspired me."

World Golf Hall of Fame member Juli Inkster of the United States and countrywoman Morgan Pressel are among the more high-profile players to have won the US women's amateur. But none has gone on to enjoy quite the success of 1992's beaten finalist, Annika Sorenstam, of Sweden.

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- The Dominion Post

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