FIFTEEN YEAR OLD golfing sensation Lydia Ko shot a 10-under 63 to lead the 2013 Women’s Australian Open after the first round at Royal Canberra Golf Course today.
Partnered with two much more experienced golf stars in World No1 Yani Tseng and the glamorous Michelle Wie, Ko set the course alight in glorious conditions in the nation’s capital.
Ko, now the leading amateur in women’s golf, put her first drive into the trees but from there on all that was threatened was an historic 59.
“I was pretty nervous when I saw the draw that that I was playing with two of the big names,” Ko admitted later, saying Wie was her favourite golfer as a “youngster” (she did start playing golf as a 5 year old!).
Ko is still an amateur, and at least theoretically a schoolgirl, though she hasn’t opened a school book since last year. Today, she was the one giving the lessons.
“I was no where near where [her partners] went,” she said. “Yani and Michelle are both really long hitters, so today I tried to think where I was going. I mean it is a tree lined course so I tried to hit it as accurately as I could.
Playing partner Tsang was reasonably happy with her 5-under in her first competition round of the year, but couldn’t believe how well Ko played.
“To Lydia, five under is nothing,” Tsang laughed. “I mean it was very fun to watch her play golf today. I mean she still looks fifteen. I don’t know how she hit the ball that well, I didn’t know. I wasn’t even that close to her when I was fifteen.”
Ko, who began on the 10th hole, started with a bogey but then helped herself to four consecutive birdies before sinking a 90-metre wedge shot for eagle on the par-five 15th hole.
“You can tell that she is very relaxed,” Tsang said, “I don’t think she even knows that after 13 holes she has only made one par. Me and Michelle were going ‘She has only made one par! And she could shoot 59 today, we are going to see history today!’ but she made bogie on number 8 but it was still a good day for her.”
Ko, winner of the NZ Open at home last week, knows the tournament is far from over.
“It could go two ways,” she said. “I could not have a great round tomorrow , or I could just follow up with a good round, so I mean it’s quite hard to beat my round today, so hopefully I can stay consistent.”
Former US Amateur Champion Mariajo Uribe is in second place following a superb 9-under 64, overshadowed by just one stroke by Ko. The 22 year old Columbian is one stroke ahead of of South Korean Jiyai Shin.
The leading Aussies at 5-under tied for seventh are Katherine Hull-Kirk, Kristie Smith and Sarah Jane Smith. Tseng is on the same mark along with two others.
Karrie Webb, winner of the recent Australian Ladies Masters for a record 7th time, is 2-under and still well in contention.
Australian Women’s Open Leaderboard