Ko makes SBW's boxing look like Muppet Show

WAYNE MARTIN
Last updated 13:00 14/02/2013
Sonny Bill Williams
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ABOVE BOARD: The Commerce Commission says it won't take any action over the complaints against Sky following the shortened Sonny Bill Williams/Francois Botha fight.

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OPINION: Anyone interested in following Lydia Ko's progress on her way to victory in last week's New Zealand Women's Open golf tournament needed to be among the estimated few thousand strong crowd at Clearwater.

New Zealand's sports television channels clearly weren't interested.

Instead, golfing enthusiasts outside of Christchurch might have caught a glimpse of Ko sinking her winning putt, or explaining the significance of her latest success, during a fleeting few seconds of televised news coverage.

Given the often vicarious needs of sections of New Zealand's sporting public, you can fully understand the ridiculous fascination with Sonny Bill Williams' now farcical boxing career.

The ongoing soap opera that is Williams' sporting career reached its nadir in Brisbane and many of us prepared to give him the benefit of any doubt, prior to Friday's circus, are probably now wondering why we bothered.

Meanwhile, at the other end of the sporting spectrum - that domain reserved for legitimate and credible sporting achievement - Ko was on an entirely different plane.

Women's golf might not stir everyone's blood, although the efforts of a 15-year-old golfing prodigy arguably should.

Surely it's not that hard a sell. Just consider the facts.

She's currently ranked 30th in the world, is the youngest player ever to win an LPGA Tour event, has won two professional tournaments as an amateur, and is currently the Australian, United States and World Amateur champion. And remember, she's still only 15.

She probably won't win the main prize at tonight's' Halberg Sports Awards ceremony at Auckland's Vector Arena.

Up against a swag of Olympic champions and world-class rowers, the odds appear stacked against her.

But, with respect to her fellow contenders Lisa Carrington, Valerie Adams and Sarah Walker, Ko's credentials stack up superbly for her to take out the Sportswoman of the Year crown.

It's not just Ko's playing ability that tags her as a star.

Mentally, she already appears to have the strength to absorb pressure, which must have been intense during Sunday's final round at Clearwater, and maintain her nerve and competitive integrity.

Golf's professional ranks don't interest her at present, although the money she could have earned from her three professional wins, including last year's New South Wales Open and Canadian Open, would make her New Zealand's top-earning women's athlete.

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The money and the inevitable international acclaim can wait, although she's already turning heads in the United States.

She could turn a few more tonight and even the coveted overall gong isn't out of the question.

Again, unlikely, although given time and the natural progression of her abiding talent, tonight is merely the teaser.

- The Nelson Mail

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