Ko, 17, is world's youngest No. 1

FEAT: Ko eclipsed the age marks of Shin, who was the youngest prior women's world No. 1 at age 22, and Woods, who was 21 when he first hit the top spot.


    Feb 02, 2015

    Ko, 17, is world's youngest No. 1


    NEW Zealand teenage star Lydia Ko became golf's youngest world No. 1 on Saturday, even though she settled for only joint second at the season-opening LPGA Coates Championship.

    The South Korean-born prodigy took the top spot at 17 years, nine months and seven days.

    "It's a big honour to be the world No. 1," Ko said. "To have that honour by my name, I can't believe it."

    She eclipsed the age marks of South Korean Shin Ji Yai, who was the youngest prior women's world No. 1 at age 22 in 2010, and United States star Tiger Woods, who was 21 when he ascended to No. 1 for the first time in 1997.

    "Tiger Woods, he's amazing," Ko said. "I just try to have fun out there and I just came into the ranking. I'll just try to keep focused and not worry about the ranking, and learn from this season."

    She squandered a four-stroke lead and struggled on the final holes, which allowed South Korean Choi Na Yeon to capture the title on 16-under 272.

    Ko, American Jessica Korda (66) and South Korean Jang Ha Na (70) shared second on 273.

    Despite a double bogey at No. 17 and a struggle just to close with a par, Ko did just enough to overtake Park In Bee for the top ranking after the South Korean shared 13th on 284 following a 71.

    "When I heard the news, I kind of went, 'Really?' and made a face," Ko said. "It was tough finishing with the last two holes like that."

    She fired a 71 on Saturday while Choi fired a 68 in the final round, staged a day earlier than usual to avoid a last-day conflict with American football's Super Bowl.

    "I played so well for so long," Choi said. "I was really nervous."

    It was another taste of history for Ko, who won the 2012 and 2013 LPGA Canadian Women's Open titles as an amateur, the first of those at age 15, making her the youngest winner in LPGA history.

    That success prompted her to turn professional and the LPGA to allow her to join the tour last year, when she won three titles, was named LPGA Rookie of the Year and captured the season-ending Tour Championship and the season points prize for a record US$1.5 million (S$2 million) payday in November.