Charley Hull is not yet 19, but she will be the “senior” player in the marquee group that also includes Lydia Ko and Su Oh for the first two rounds of the ISPS Handa New Zealand Women’s Open at Clearwater Golf Course.
This trio is definitely the future of golf. Kiwi Ko is world No. 1, England’s Hull is last year’s LET No.1 and Australian Oh won the RACV Ladies Masters on the Gold Coast earlier this month in only her second professional tournament.
Ko and Hull played together at Clearwater last year, but for Oh, playing alongside Ko is something that she has looked forward to for some time.
“She is the world’s best. I am looking forward to playing with her. I have seen her playing, but not close up. It will be good to see what she does and compare where my game is at. I’m also playing with Charley tomorrow. It’s a young group. It will be fun.”
Oh played the New Zealand Open at Clearwater two years ago as a 16-year-old amateur and finished in a tie for ninth with rounds of 74, 69, 69 and showed then that she was able to handle the tough conditions that Clearwater can throw up.
“I know it is going to be windy. I don’t mind playing in the wind, it is a real challenge. If I play well in the wind I feel like I have really accomplished something. I think two years ago it was wind and rain together. Hopefully we will only have one and not both together. I would be happy with that.”
Ko and Oh may not have played together, but they have one thing in common – they have both been the world’s No. 1 ranked amateur player as Oh took over from Ko when the phenomenon turned professional. Just like Ko, it did not take Oh long to announce her arrival in the professional ranks.
She birdied the last four holes at the RACV Ladies’ Masters at Royal Pines to win the tournament by three strokes.
“It was my second event as a professional and I didn’t really expect to win it. I just wanted to play well and get into contention. It was a good week.”
With a total crowd of up to 30,000 expected over the three days in New Zealand, Oh is not duanted by the size of the galleries that are expected to follow the trio over the first two days.
“I don’t mind the crowd. I think it is great she (Lydia) can bring so many. It is so good for the tournament, so good for the game. I was just on the putting green before and there were people just watching her, and so were players. I’m not intimidated by a crowd. It will be great to have them here,” she said.