Lydia Ko, 14, eyes U.S. major after record win

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Lydia Ko, 14, eyes U.S. major after record win

WELLINGTON, New Zealand - Lydia Ko, who over the weekend became the youngest player to win a professional golf tournament, hopes to compete at a U.S. major this year, her coach said Tuesday.

The Korean-born New Zealander created history when she won the New South Wales Open in Australia on Sunday at the age of 14 years and nine months, eclipsing Ryo Ishikawa of Japan’s mark of 15 years and 8 months set in 2007.

Ko shot a 3-under par final round of 69 to finish 14-under for the tournament, four strokes clear of Becky Morgan of Wales in the 54-hole tournament at Oatlands Golf Club on Sunday.

Ko’s coach Guy Wilson said the prodigy, already ranked the world’s top female amateur, planned to wait “three or four” years before turning professional.

But he said the Auckland-based golfer, who moved to New Zealand with her family when she was five, hoped to experience playing in the United States this year if she was granted an age exemption and finances permitted.

Wilson said he had approached organizers of the Kraft-Nabisco tournament at Palm Springs in April, the first major on the women’s pro circuit, about waiving the rule prohibiting players aged under 18.

“I asked for an exemption to play a couple of months ago, but haven’t heard,” Wilson told Fairfax Media. “At this stage we couldn’t afford to go but things can change.”

As an amateur, Ko had to forfeit the $19,900 winner’s check from the NSW Open, which went to runner-up Morgan.

Wilson said Ko, who still attends high school when not playing in tournaments, was already shouldering the training schedule of a professional, clocking up 30-50 hours a week on the golf course.

He believed Ko’s Korean background helped her cope with the demanding workload. AFP

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