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.

❏ Canterbury Golf's Hook Into Golf month kicked off this week and a number of clubs will host free days as a way of attracting new people to the sport. This week's club hosts are: Tomorrow - Rangiora Golf Club, 4-6pm, Friday - Terrace Downs, 1-3pm, Culverden Golf Club, time TBC, Sunday - Burnham Golf Club, 10am, Harewood Golf Club, 10am, Kaiapoi Golf Club, 9am, All week - Terrace Downs, free golf for U13s after 1pm.

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❏ Russley's Vincent Guan won the Arthur Chambers Memorial junior tournament at the weekend, shooting a three-under-par 70 at Weedons on Sunday.

The 3.5 handicapper won the top prize at the tournament with a seven under, net 66. He also beat Canterbury team member Jason Yoo, who shot a one-under 72, but took the under-19 boys' gross prize because Guan wasn't allowed to take two prizes. Coringa's Fiona Gebbie won the under-19 girls' gross with 77 while Kaiapoi's Austin Hamilton's 81 was good enough for him to win the boys' under-16 gross title. Lincoln's Garth and Brett Tipper won the boys' grade 1 and grade 2 nett prizes and Templeton's Jasmine Rou was the girls' net champion.

❏ Canterbury were unable to bring home the Grant Clements Memorial trophy for a third consecutive year. Jordan Bakermans and Owen Burgess finished fifth in the event in Mt Maunganui.

- The Press

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