Incredible Ko the one to watch, say rivals

TEENAGE PRODIGY: Lydia Ko became the youngest winner on the LPGA Tour in 2012.
TEENAGE PRODIGY: Lydia Ko became the youngest winner on the LPGA Tour in 2012.

World No 1 amateur Lydia Ko had a season to behold last year. Everywhere she went around the globe she turned heads with her performances and attracted praise from the world's best golfers.

The Press asked a handful of the leading professionals coming to Clearwater to play the New Zealand Women's Open this week what they made of her record-breaking 2012 season.

■ Laura Davies (2010 NZ Women's Open champion, winner of 82 titles worldwide):

It is incredible and I don't think that there will be another golfer like Lydia.

What she achieved last year was just phenomenal.

Golfers just don't do that when they are 15. When I think about what I was doing at the age of 15, I was playing netball and hockey at school level. I hadn't even touched a golf club...

She has the ability to go on and be one of the greats of the game. Her win at the Canadian Open last year and also the NSW Open were just incredible performances.

I can still remember her in 2010 when she finished leading amateur at the age of 12. I didn't see her play but I finished seven under par for the week and she finished three under and I knew how well I had played. I knew then that she was something else.

Normally these young sensations come and go but Lydia hasn't, she has just got better and better. She is not disappearing at all. In fact, she is handling the pressure of being the next big thing remarkably well.

■ Lindsey Wright - 2012 NZ Women's Open champion (withdrawn from the 2013 NZ Open)

She is just awesome. I mean you can't put into words what she has achieved in 2012. It was just phenomenal. I mean I am 33 and I haven't achieved half of what she has achieved already.

Her composure at such a young age is what is most impressive.

She doesn't get fazed. When I played with her I thought she was 22, 23. Her ability and performances are a credit to her and also a credit to New Zealand Golf.

The challenge for Lydia is going to be balancing her personal life and her golf.

■ Sophie Gustafson - 2000 British Open champion

What she did in Canada last year was unbelievable. She is very impressive. I cannot wait to watch her play this week in New Zealand.

■ Anna Nordqvist - 2009 LPGA Championship (major) winner

I have never played with Lydia, but it is very impressive what she has accomplished at such young age and I am sure she has a bright future to look forward to.

■ Cathryn Bristow - NZ golfer on the Ladies European Tour

Lydia had an amazing year in 2012 and I hope she can continue that form this year and for many years to come. She certainly has had a great start, almost defending her title at the NSW Open.

She has brought a huge amount of worldwide exposure to golf and particularly women's golf in New Zealand through her success and it's fantastic to see.

■ Kristie Smith - 2011 NZ Women's Open champion

What can you say about Lydia? She is just incredible. I have never seen anyone with her composure at such a young age. I mean what she did at the Canadian Open was an unbelievable performance.

The Press