Ko rightly praised, but what of those behind?

MATT RICHENS
Last updated 05:00 13/02/2013

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OPINION: While Little Lydia turned the New Zealand Open into a promoters' dream, winning by a single shot in front of a packed gallery, it's easy to focus too heavily on the positive. And there was plenty to be positive about, to be fair.

Ko is, was, and looks likely always to be, brilliant.

From tee to green she was superb and her putting, which she labelled just "OK", was strong most of the time and sensational when it mattered.

She just hits the ball so straight. It sounds like the easiest thing, but even the lowest handicappers will tell you that hitting the ball dead straight all the time is no mean feat. Ko's power, her only "weakness" of the past, has come on in leaps and bounds and she regularly out-drove most of her opposition.

She deserves each and every one of her accolades, is a rare phenomenon, and, on her current path, is destined for greatness.

But, and this takes nothing away from Ko, there is no-one close to Ko in New Zealand women's golf. That should be worrying.

Not one of the other 12 Kiwis in the field made the cut and none of them was under one one-hundredth of the pressure Ko was.

New Zealand Golf are riding Ko's coat-tails and while they can't pay her while she remains an amateur, they owe her plenty.

But is enough being done for the next tier down? Is Ko-mania blinding New Zealand Golf to the stark contrast between their No 1 and the rest, or is it just that Ko is so good and incomparable? Honestly, it's probably the latter.

But then surely New Zealand golf should be trying to work out the secret to Ko's success and mimic it for every 6-through-16-year-old that shows an inch of golfing talent.

Ko's talent and drive are huge, but everything around the 15-year-old is professional. Her team, including mother Tina, coaches Guy Wilson and Craig Dixon and others have handled Ko superbly. She's humble and shy off the course; fearless and intimidating on it.

The Ko approach could and should be women's golf's version of what Arthur Lydiard did for running.

Instead of using her face and name for promotion, New Zealand Golf would be better off helping create 100 more Kos.

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- The Press

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