Well, that didn’t take long. Less than a year after Lexi Thompson made history by becoming the youngest golfer ever to win an LPGA Tour event, 15-year-old Lydia Ko shattered that record by winning the Canadian Women’s Open to eclipse the mark set by Thompson at the 2011 Navistar LPGA Classic.
Ko put up some impressive numbers for a kid barely in her teens. The New Zealander, who was born in South Korea, fired rounds of 68-68-72-67 to finish at 3-under, good enough for a three-stroke win over Inbee Park.
Golf’s new phenom ran away and hid during Sunday’s final round, posting seven birdies and just two bogeys for a 5-under 67. It was just the third start on tour for Ko, who also becomes the first amateur since JoAnne Carner in 1969 to hoist the hardware at an LPGA event.
For sure, winning is nothing new to Ko, who captured the 2012 U.S. Women’s Amateur trophy just two weeks ago, becoming the No. 1 amateur in the world. She also won the New South Wales Open earlier this season to become the then-youngest winner in history on a professional golf tour at 14 years, nine months and five days. Thompson was 16 years, eight months and eight days old when she posted her victory last September. Ko cruised to her latest triumph at the tender age of 15 years, four months and two days.
Ko’s feat was not lost on some of the major talents who chased her all week.
“It’s very [impressive],” Yani Tseng said before Ko was done but after the world No. 1 finished a disappointing 1-over and in a tie for 35th in the Canadian tourney. “Especially she's only 15 years old."
“I didn't even know what I'm doing when I'm 15, so it's pretty amazing to see her play this good in the best stage,” the 23-year-old Tseng said, adding that she felt like the old lady of the tour. “It's good to see so many younger players now on the tour, and it's good to see the young generations coming out. I think it's good for the game.”
Stacy Lewis, the second-ranked golfer in the world and, with Jiyai Shin, one of Ko’s final-round playing partners, said she was pleased to have a front-row seat to such an auspicious occasion.
“It was fun...watching Lydia play, and I kind of got caught up in her game I think there at the end watching her play, and she went around the whole day, she played great,” said Lewis, who closed in a tie for sixth at 7-under. “Every single shot was right at the pin. Jiyai and I started laughing about it at the end, so it was just really impressive and fun to be a part of history."
Most notable to Lewis was the way Ko comported herself on the course.
“You would have never known that it was the final round of an LPGA event; she played like she had been there before,” Lewis said about the young woman’s demeanor. “It was an impressive round for an LPGA pro, let alone a 14 [sic]-year‑old. So I was really impressed.”
Lewis chalked up Ko’s bogey on the 72nd hole to a late case of the jitters once her young colleague realized what she was about to achieve. Old pro that she is, at age 27, Lewis tried to help Ko get to the finish line.
“She held it together out there and I was just trying to talk to her at the end, ask her what she's doing next week and kind of keep her distracted a little bit,” Lewis said. “I think you finally saw some nerves there at the end. I think she finally realized what was going to happen and we've all been there and we know those feelings."
"So I was just, ‘what are you doing next week, is your mom here,’ and just kind of asking her basic questions,” Lewis said. “And she thanked me afterwards, but it was an honor just to get to watch her, so I had to say thank you to her.”