|Lydia Ko in her pre-championship press conference at Royal Liverpool on Tuesday
She's 15, still an amateur and arguably the hottest property in women's golf.
Following a remarkable run of results including becoming the youngest winner in LPGA Tour history at the CN Canadian Women’s British Open last month, South Korean-born New Zealander Lydia Ko is a genuine contender at this week's Ricoh Women's British Open at Royal Liverpool, the final Major of 2012.
Ko began the year by winning the New South Wales Open in Australia aged 14 and claimed the U.S. Women’s Amateur title just a fortnight before winning in Vancouver, when she was the first amateur to win on the LPGA since Jo Anne Carner at the Burdine’s Invitational in 1969.
Now she is playing in her second women’s major of the year at the Ricoh Women’s British Open and is thought to be one of the youngest ever competitors after Michelle Wie, who won the Smyth Salver aged 14 in 2005.
Ko said she felt nervous when playing in her first Major at the US Women’s Open earlier this year, where she finished as the low amateur in a tie for 39th.
“Yeah, that was probably one of the most nerve‑wracking moments of my life,” said Ko.
“First hole I was lining up my putt and my hands were shaking so bad. I couldn't put the line straight. So that was the first; I knew I was nervous in all the other tournaments, as well, but then, I don't know why, I just couldn't put the ball straight. Yeah, it was really nerve‑wracking, even though like when I was like talking to myself, like, oh, why am I this nervous. But I guess it's the U.S. Open, that's why.”
The experience will help Ko this week in her second major, but she admitted to still feeling nervous.
“That was my first major, and this is my second one. So I guess it will be a little more comfortable but yes, still nervous.”
Reflecting on her practice round at Royal Liverpool on Monday, she said: “I reckon it's one of the hardest golf courses I've ever played.
“It was really windy. On the first hole I went in the right rough and second shot in the right rough and then third shot in the right rough again, so it's tough (laughing). And I consider myself quite, you know, consistent, quite straight off the tee, and it was quite tough.”
She is aiming to make the cut, just as she was when she won in Canada.
“It's the top players out here, so I'll just be playing my best and hopefully I'll be able to make the cut again and go from there,” said Ko, who has her coach Guy Wilson acting as caddie for the week.
“I haven't been home for a while so it's good to have my coach there, and he's going to caddie this week, as well, so that's also quite relieving for me. Sometimes you get new caddies and you have to get used to it but I know Guy well, so hopefully we'll be able to make a good combination.”
Ko is in no rush to turn pro as would like to attend college after she graduates in 2014.
It is staggering to think that she will only be 19 when golf returns to the Olympic Games in 2016.