Major winner Webb tells Lydia Ko to go pro

DAVID BARBELER
Last updated 15:38 13/02/2013
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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Australia's former golf world No 1 Karrie Webb has told 15-year-old New Zealander Lydia Ko she is ready to turn professional.

Webb, 38, will go into the Women's Australian Open at Royal Canberra on Thursday in hot form after winning the Australian Ladies Masters for the eighth time in her illustrious career 11 days earlier.

But she believes Ko, the world's top-ranked amateur, is the one to keep an eye on.

"I think you could say one of the hottest players in the world right now is Lydia Ko," Webb said.

"It does (make you feel old) when you think about when she was born and when I turned pro."

When asked if her advice to Ko would be to stay amateur for a while longer and enjoy the game, Webb replied: "No, that's not my advice to her.

"Obviously she's proven that she's ready to play professional golf."

Ko became the youngest person to win a professional golf tournament last year when she took out the NSW Women's Open.

That record was soon broken by 14-year-old Canadian Brooke Henderson but Ko has gone on to notch further wins over the pros on the LPGA Tour (2012) and in the New Zealand Women's Open last week.

It's a stark contrast to when Webb turned professional aged 20 and was the youngest player on the circuit.

"I think that the popularity of golf has increased and so therefore the technology with equipment but also the technology of teaching," Webb said.

"I think kids are getting taught correctly at a younger age with equipment that fits them. They're not starting with heavy, cut-down clubs."

However Webb doesn't think the recent influx of teenagers will have a negative effect on her chances of winning a fifth Women's Australian Open title.

"Anyone of any age can play golf at an elite level," she said.

"Guys in their 40s have the best years of their career. Steve Stricker and Vijay Singh have proven that in the men's game. Julie Inkster played some of her best golf in her 40s.

"That's the beauty of golf."

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- AAP

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