Rolex World No.1 Lydia Ko arrived home in New Zealand in the early hours of Monday morning after capturing her first ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open title in Melbourne.
The affable teenager, who is bypassing the LPGA in Thailand this week to play in front her home crowd in the ISPS Handa NZ Women’s Open hosted by Christchurch, gave a media conference to a packed room and explained why she loves playing on home soil.
“I have so much fun playing the New Zealand Open. This is my sixth time playing here and every time I’ve had a great experience. To know that I’m 17 and this is my sixth is pretty cool. I’ve got so many great memories here at Clearwater and last year so many people came out to watch me play.”
Ko is thrilled to be the world’s top ranked female golfer and added: “It is really awesome to be in that position now and it is great to share this number one ranking with all the people in New Zealand.”
Inspiring young kids is her favourite part. “The coolest part of being in that position is that somewhere you go there are juniors walking and they say, ‘You’re my favourite player,’ or ‘You’re my role model.’ That’s the best thing, for I’m still under 18 and still a junior. For another girl or boy to say you’re my role model kind of makes me feel special and like I need to work harder so I really become that role model they look up to. I think just to be able to inspire is the coolest thing.”
Ko will be vying for her second NZ Open title this week at Clearwater. The main challenges will come from fellow teenagers Charley Hull and recent RACV Ladies Masters Champion Su Oh. The trio will be paired together for the first two rounds.
Other notables in the field are former champions Dame Laura Davies and Gwladys Nocera.