Lydia Ko (born 24 April 1997) is a Korean-born New Zealand professional golfer who became the No. 1 ranked woman professional golfer on 2 February 2015 at 17 years 9 months 8 days of age, making her the youngest player of either gender to be ranked No. 1 in professional golf. She is the current No. 1 golfer. Upon winning The Evian Championship in France on the 13 September 2015, she became the youngest woman, at age 18 years, 4 months and 20 days, to win a major championship. Her closing round of 63 was a record lowest final round in the history of women’s golf majors.
On 3 April 2016, she won the ANA Inspiration, where she also became the youngest player to win two women’s major championships. Since turning professional in 2014, Ko has career winnings of $7,341,477 as of 31 October 2016. Additionally, she is the first LPGA Tour player to win at least $2,000,000 in each of her first three full seasons on Tour.
She had been the top-ranked woman amateur golfer in the world for 130 weeks when she announced she was turning professional on 23 October 2013.
She became the youngest person ever to win a professional golf tour event and youngest person ever to win an LPGA Tour event. In August 2013, she became the only amateur to win two LPGA Tour events. As an amateur she never missed a cut in 25 professional tournaments, and by September 2013 had risen to fifth in the Women’s World Golf Rankings in only 23 professional tournaments.
Ko played her first LPGA Tour event on 9 February 2012 (14 years, 9 months, 16 days) and made the cut in her first 53 consecutive LPGA Tour events through 4 June 2015 (18 years, 1 month, 11 days) until she missed the cut at the 2015 KPMG Women’s PGA Championship. Since that lone missed cut, Ko has made the last 36 consecutive Tour events and counting (as of 28 November 2016).
On 23 April 2014, one day before her 17th birthday, Ko was named as one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people. The same month she advanced to world No. 2 in the Rolex Rankings when she won the Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic. It should also be noted that Lydia would go on to win the 2015 Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic as well, marking the second time she defended a title but her first as a professional.
On 22 November 2015, Ko won the LPGA Rolex Player of the Year Award by two points over Inbee Park, making her the youngest winner in the 49 years of the award.
In both 2014 and 2015, Ko has been named in the EspnW Impact25 list of twenty-five athletes and influencers who have made the greatest impact for women in sports. In 2016, Ko was named Young New Zealander of the Year in the annual New Zealander of the Year Awards.
Silver at Rio
At the Rio Olympics in August 2016 Ko won the silver medal for women’s golf. As of 10 October 2016, Lydia has won 14 LPGA Tour titles in her young career. That tally means only 38 LPGA Tour players have ever won more Tour titles than Lydia Ko, at the ripe old age of 19 years, 5 months and 16 days.
Ko’s 2016 started where she left off from 2015, winning the ISPS Handa New Zealand Women’s Open for a third time in four years by two shots from Hye Jin Choi, Felicity Johnson, and Nanna Koerstz Madsen. Just 11 minutes before she was due to tee off for her final round, an earthquake struck, with Ko vowing to donate her prize money to charity to help those affected.