Golf is one of those individual sports which require great mental aptitude. For up to 6 hours (how long it can take to complete 18 holes–a round of golf), it is just you and the golf course. After a bad drive or putt, you are left with your thoughts, and after a bad round, many head to the 19th hole (the bar), to drown their sorrows. It is therefore mind boggling how Lydia Ko, at the age of 17, became the youngest golfer ever to be ranked number 1 in the professional game.
Born in Seoul, South Korea, Ko emigrated at a young age to New Zealand, the country which she has represented ever since. Ko started playing golf at the ripe age of 5, when her aunt gave her 2 golf clubs. Ko follows in the footsteps of predominant South Korean golfers (Se-ri Park, Grace Park and Inbee Park, just to name a few) who have dominated the Women’s game over the last few decades. Perhaps it is a mix of South Korea becoming fertile ground for budding golfers and the tireless South Korean work ethic (both lauded as cornerstones to success), but it could be the facilitative school environment in New Zealand which allowed Lydia to pursue sports at such a young age. She took correspondence classes for her school in New Zealand and regularly skipped weeks of the curriculum to pursue her passion. Perhaps the highly competitive schooling system in Seoul wouldn’t have afforded her such luxuries.
Ko has lined up a barrage of accolades. At the age of 15, she became the youngest ever player to win on the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) tour. At the age of 17, she was named one of Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people. At the age of 18, she won the LPGA Rolex player of the year award, and also became the youngest woman to win a major championship (The Evian Championship in France) with her closing round of 63 (the lowest final round in the history of women’s major championships). A year later, she was named young New Zealander of the year and won a silver medal at the Rio Olympics.
Ko has become a global icon, paving the way for young golfers to chase their dreams, and never feel age is a rite of passage. She is an inspiration to golfers in her birth country of South Korea, and to young golfers globally (especially those of Asian heritage). She has categorically proved that age is just a number.
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In this video, Ko reveals her story, and how she is dealing with her ascent into golfing stardom.
Ko speaks about how she manages the mental side of the game, showing maturity beyond her years.
Ko narrates her exceptional journey to the pinnacle of women’s golf.