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Tuesday February 19, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Wednesday April 17, 2013 MYT 12:34:33 AM
WELLINGTON: New Zealand’s teenage golfing sensation Lydia Ko (pic) will resist pressure to turn professional following an eye-catching performance at the Women’s Australian Open, her coach said yesterday.
The 15-year-old, already the world’s number one amateur and the youngest tournament winner in US LPGA history, came close to upsetting South Korea’s Shin Jiyai before a poor final round saw her relegated to third.
Her form at the Royal Canberra Golf Club, which included a career-best 10-under-par 63 in the opening round, has a number of pundits, including Tiger Woods’s former caddy Steve Williams, calling for her to turn professional.
“There’s no negative on going pro in my mind,” Williams said of his fellow Kiwi, who was born in South Korea and moved to New Zealand at the age of six.
“There is nothing I can think of to suggest she shouldn’t play on the LPGA Tour,” he told the New Zealand Herald.
“These days she could continue to study while playing. Let’s face it, she already plays a schedule where she misses plenty of school.”
But Lydia’s coach Guy Wilson said the prodigy had no intention of cashing in on her growing profile and was content to remain an amateur for the time being.
“She hasn’t got any new plans for it to move from being a game to a job,” he told Radio New Zealand.
“In our plans, she’s probably got about a year and a half to go (before turning professional).”
Lydia has won three professional tournaments, including claiming last year’s Canadian Women’s Open when she was aged just 15 years, four months and two days, 16 months younger than the previous LPGA record holder.
She has reportedly sacrificed more than US$500,000 in prize money by remaining an amateur, including a cheque for almost US$80,000 from the Australian tournament.
“It’s a big decision,” Wilson said. “It’s not the same playing as an amateur as it is as a professional.
The level-headed adolescent also told AFP last year that she was mindful of the difficulties faced by American Michelle Wie, who has under-performed since turning pro aged 15 in 2005 amid much hype.
Wilson said time was on Ko’s side. — AFP
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