Ko's star qualities give women shot in arm

Last updated 05:00 02/04/2013
Lydia Ko
Getty Images
SHOT IN THE ARM: Rising Kiwi golf star Lydia Ko.

Relevant offers


The All Blacks machine is no model for business or life Plunket Shield 2016-17: An XI of players who will be pressing test selection claims Baz, Cairnsy, Louie ... everyone suffered on the sticky wicket at Southwark Crown Court How did boxing's blue-riband heavyweight class turn into a mess? Head to Head: Is Lydia Ko's sacking of her caddie simply papering over bigger problems? Bledisloe Cup 2016: The magic the Wallabies need to overcome the All Blacks at Eden Park Here are 18 reasons why the All Blacks will secure a world record 18th consecutive test win Beauden Barrett must beat Owen Farrell for World Rugby's player of the year award Peter Lampp: One solitary bonus point would have earned the Turbos a semifinal English Premier League recap round 8: Not much change at the top, but who's for the drop?

As the LPGA (Ladies Professional Golf Association) makes its comeback from some dark days, it's being boosted by the unexpected success of Stacey Lewis and New Zealand amateur Lydia Ko.

OPINION: Just three years ago, the LPGA was on thin ice. Commissioner Carolyn Bivens had been forced to resign after a players' revolt. The schedule in the United States had shrunk to just 10 events and sponsors were dropping like flies with the recession in full swing.

But, under the restrained stewardship of commissioner Mike Whan, the LPGA has reinvented itself as a global tour, following a different path from their inward-looking men's counterpart. The tour has 28 events on its schedule for the year and interest seems to be growing, although it will always play second fiddle to the men's tour.

The LPGA has to face problems that the men's pro tour doesn't come across. The game's two biggest stars - Annika Sorenstam and Lorena Ochoa - quit early. That's like the PGA tour losing Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy. To misquote George Bernard Shaw - losing one player may be regarded as a misfortune, to lose two looks like carelessness.

It is understandable the women want to have families but the tour needs to be appealing enough to give them motivation to return after having children.

In some respects, Bivens was unlucky. She wasn't to know a recession was coming and in her last years the tour was dominated by Koreans, many of whom spoke poor English.

Her efforts to deal with it were ham-fisted - fining players for not being able to speak English - but the reasoning was correct. To connect with fans and sponsors, players must speak the language of the tour's home country.

The ascent of 28-year-old Lewis to the No 1 spot is a godsend because it gives US fans someone to cheer for (the next six players in the world rankings are all Asian). It's somewhat of a surprise because just a year ago it looked like Taiwan's Yani Tseng had a lock on the No 1 ranking for as long as she desired. But last year Lewis became the first American in 18 years to win the LPGA player of the year, then jumped to the top of the world rankings last month.

However, Ko's success is the most unexpected boon. The feats of the 15-year-old phenomenon have given the tour a huge boost in the media. The LPGA usually gets attention only during majors but when Ko was on her run a few months ago it garnered attention around the world.

Ad Feedback

The last amateur to get the game this much attention turned out to be a bit of a disappointment. Although Michelle Wie is more photogenic, Ko has more game and more golf smarts. Ko is unlikely to be sidetracked into becoming a sideshow by competing against men as Wie was.

Every sport needs a great rivalry. The next great American hope is 18-year-old Lexi Thompson, who set the record for the youngest LPGA winner at 16, until it was broken by Ko last year. The dream scenario would be for these two to fight it out at the top for the next 20 years.

- The Press


Special offers
Opinion poll

Is Dan Carter still the first-choice No 10 for the ABs?

Absolutely. He's just a bit rusty.

I'm going to sit on the fence.

No way. He's past his best.

Aaron Cruden is the answer.

I'm a Beauden Barrett fan.

Colin Slade is definitely the right choice.

Vote Result

Featured Promotions

Sponsored Content