Long may the cameras follow

PETER LAMPP
Last updated 12:00 21/02/2013

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OPINION: It is unlikely any 15-year-old has captivated a sporting nation like Lydia Ko.

No-one cares about her being yet another South Korean taking advantage of New Zealand's cheap golf.

Without that Korean work ethic she probably wouldn't be the new Tiger Woods of women's golf.

And she can wear as many of NZ Golf's peaked caps as she likes.

It is just great that she is overshadowing the professionals, women who have been on the big tours for years.

As an amateur there is less pressure, less expectation to excel all the time and that might be the reason for her peace of mind.

But that doesn't get away from the fact she is a mere 15-year-old.

Apparently she does go to school, sometimes. We have yet to see a truancy officer barge on the green and say, "get back in the classroom".

There are three species of golfer - amateurs, professional amateurs and professionals.

Lydia comes into the middle bracket. To be as world class as she is requires hours and hours of practice, most of the daylight hours in fact.

To quote her coach Guy Wilson: "Lydia hits more golf balls than anyone. She just keeps beating balls, working on it every day. She sees me five to six times a week, the physio twice a week, the personal trainer twice a week, and works on mental performance once every two weeks."

Even if she isn't pocketing prizemoney, tournament promoters have to be picking up all of her costs, like flights for her and her caddie at least.

Her presence in tournaments is quadrupling the crowds and the media attention.

We seldom see women's golf on New Zealand television, mainly because we have few female professionals.

But since Lydia has been going bananas, suddenly we have been getting plenty of Sky time.

That TV exposure will ensure that the day she goes the money way, sponsors will line up and force-feed her millions.

Fifteen is very young but she seems to be 15 going on 25. And the prizemoney she is missing out on now will be made up with the stroke of a pen when she deems the time is right.

■ When someone like Manawatu Jets basketball coach Ryan Weisenberg opts out of taking a reasonably successful side for another term, suddenly conspiracy theories abound.

For most of us it was unexpected and a bit too close to the next national league season for comfort.

So we hit the phones and couldn't unearth anything irregular about the popular Weisenberg's decision to step down. He made it for family reasons and he will be earning good loot coaching at Pepperdine University.

Now they must secure a worthy replacement and that can be as tricky as unearthing American imports.

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■ Hordes of people flock to places like Mangatainoka to watch pre-season Super Rugby matches with greater urgency than they do to competition matches.

They sell out in no time, perhaps because it has become the thing to do, rather like the annual social cross-dressing which is the Wellington Sevens.

The Mangatainoka match last Saturday wasn't exactly cheap, with adult tickets at $55 and orange cans of Tui at $5. Do the maths and it must be a good earner for the brewer and we assume, for the Hurricanes franchise, even when costs are deducted.

The annual guest d'honneur, Colin "Tree" Meads, 76, Knight Companion no less, sat nearby in the press buckets cradling an orange tinny.

In his day, summer festival matches were played, a chance to see All Blacks in the backblocks. But they were frolics compared with the brutal stuff dished out by the Chiefs and Canes last Saturday.

At halftime a few bare-chested lads popped out on to the paddock to perform a haka. Yellow-vested security men approached, one of whom grappled a bare chest and was heavily shoved aside for his troubles.

The yellow vest wisely desisted, the haka was completed and everyone quietly wandered off. Sometimes peace pays.

- Manawatu Standard

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