The 16-year old Kiwi amateur has done it again! Returning to the venue where she won her first LPGA title, Lydia Ko (New Zealand) has won the CN Canadian Women’s Open for the 2nd year in a row. She retains the championship she claimed last year when she beat backworld ranked #1 player Inbee Park (South Korea) to take the Canadian Open in 2012.
Ko started the 72-hole tournament sharing the lead with Angela Stanford (USA) when both carded 65. Then Ko hit some bumps in the 2nd round. Her putter faltered, she gave up 3 bogies, carded 69, and dropped down the board to -6, where she kept company for a time with Laura Davies (England) and Paula Creamer(USA). That’s not bad company for a 16-year old amateur to keep!
Creamer eventually ended the Canadian Open at five under par, alongside Gerina Piller (USA), Jodi Ewart Shadoff (England), and Jessica Korda (USA), all of them no doubt glad to finish in the top 10 after their exhausting Solheim Cup play last weekend.
Despite her early appearance near the top of the board, the 49-year old Davies fell on hard times in the 3rd round. She carded 5 bogies and 2 doubles and just couldn’t recover, finishing at 4 shots over par, well down on the board.
Caroline Hedwall (Sweden) came blowing up the board during the 3rd round, passing Ko, now sharing the 2nd spot with Susann Pettersen (Norway). But Hedwall, who also played her heart out at the Solheim, wouldn’t hold her spot. Three bogies and 31 putts in the 4th round sent her down to a 3rd place tie with Brittany Lincicome (USA).
Ko teed off for the 4th round 1 shot off the lead, and she didn’t waste a single shot reclaiming and holding it. Karine Icher (France), another Solheim survivor, gave chase in the final round but too many bogies in the 2nd and 3rd rounds put too much distance between her 4th round start at 6th place and Ko’s already-established lead. Icher finished the Open at an impressive -10, in 2nd place but still 5 shots off Ko’s lead.
Her putter back in working condition, Ko sank 5 birdie putts on the front 9, gave up 1 bogie, sent her final putt of the tournament rolling so casually along a 20 foot breaking line for another birdie that it looked for a time as though it might never arrive. She finished the round with another 64, right back where she started the tournament on Thursday. Nobody was better!
Inbee Park and Charley Hull (England) both looked like serious challengers at various points in the Open. Park held the lead at the end of the 2nd round, but just couldn’t keep us the pace Ko set for the last half of the tournament. She finished with an overall -4 and a small paycheck.
Hull, much trumpeted after her stunning defeat of Paula Creamer last weekend at the Solheim, the fearless English teen who wore a New York Yankees baseball cap her boyfriend gave her, without knowing anything about the Yankees or American baseball, set the pace in the 1st round of the Open.
But Hull’s 3rd and 4th rounds, like Park’s, fell well behind the leaders’ pace. Hull finished at -3 in a tie for 17th place, right behind Park. She took home a small paycheck as well, perhaps a promise of things to come as well as a memento of her work at the Royal Mayfair Golf Club. We’ve not seen the last of Charley Hull.
When will Ko turn pro?
Ko’s winning record over the last 2 years has catapulted her into superstar status, perhaps before she was ready emotionally, and generated endless speculation about why she doesn’t abandon her amateur status and turn pro.
To be sure, she has the game to turn pro and take those purses she’s currently leaving for the runners-up. In January 2012 she won the Bing Lee/Samsung NWS Open on the ALPG Tour. Then in July 2012 she won low amateur honors at the USGA Women’s Open and followed that with a win at the US Women’s Amateur in August. That victory got her an invitation to the 2012 CN Canadian Women’s Open, and the rest is history.
I’m happy at the moment . . . this win will help us think about what are the options right now.
Lydia Ko, responding to the post-tournament interview question about turning pro
Ko seems much less concerned about changing her amateur status than the spots commentators. Her game in clearly ready for the pro tours, but there’s a reason LPGA regulations include a minimum age requirement of 18 for Tour status. The loss of winnings aside, Ko and her parents may see an advantage to allowing her to enjoy her final schoolgirl years. Once a pro, Ko will have a whole new set of public demands and professional responsibilities. Why rush that?
What’s next for the chicks with sticks? Next weekend the LPGA Safeway Classic Presented by Coca-Cola will be played at the Columbia Edgewater Country Club in Portland, Oregon and the LET Ladies Scottish Open will be played in Aberdeen, Scotland at Archerfield Links. I’ll provide news for both events.