World No.1 amateur Lydia Ko is regarded as the bookies favourite for the ISPS Handa NZ Women’s Open hosted by Christchurch which will be played at the Pegasus Golf and Sports Club from February 17 – 19.

The 14-year-old, who became one of the youngest winners of a professional event when she won the NSW Open, is the outright favourite at the TAB with odds of $11.00 of becoming the first Kiwi to win the National Open.The New Zealand Golf rep is favoured ahead of defending champion Kristie Smith and Lindsey Wright of Australia (both $13).Seasoned LET player Linda Wessberg of Sweden is rated the fourth best chance to win the championship paying $15 to 1.LPGA Tour player Sarah Kemp, who has finished runner up twice in the event and had a top 10 last year, is fifth favourite at $17.World No.3 amateur Cecilia Cho is the next highest ranked Kiwi on the list in a share of 10th favourite paying $30 to win the event.Ko returns to the ISPS Handa NZ Women’s Open hosted by Christchurch after placing tied 7th in 2010 and fourth last year and on both times she was the leading amateur in the event.Her recent form has been impressive. After she made history at the NSW Open Ko finished tied 32nd at the Australian Masters on the Gold Coast and tied 19th at the Handa Australian Women’s Open at Royal Melbourne.She has climbed 14 places on the World professional golf rankings this week to 166 in the world which is a remarkable achievement as she has only played seven professional tournaments.Ko is comfortably the World No.1 amateur and comfortably the New Zealand No.1 (both professional and amateur) with the next best Lynnette Brooky ranked 328 in the world.