Last week was a good week for Lydia Ko. She turned 17, was named one of TIME's 100 Most Influential People for 2013 and then collected her first LPGA Tour title as a professional.
Still, weeks like that are increasingly becoming the norm for Ko, and it's hard to see that changing any time soon. We don't want to get ahead of ourselves, but it already seems like she has all the tools to become golf's next big thing, even if she is only 17.
It might seem obvious, but when a young, talented golfer bursts onto the scene, people often evaluate potential based on what they see rather than what they've already done. Ko doesn't leave any of that up for debate. She's won three LPGA Tour events in consecutive seasons -- two as an amateur -- and has three other professional victories outside the LPGA Tour. No hypotheticals there. Just results.
__Bubba Watson with the buttoned-up shirt, Rickie Fowler with the flat-brim ... every pro nowadays seems to have their own style, and Ko is no different. She rocks the hipster glasses like no one else, and her general persona gives her a knack for taking unintentionally great pictures.
Because of their physical make up, a lot of professional women golfers tend to gain power by throwing their head towards the ball during the downswing, sacrificing consistency in the process. Ko keeps her height beautifully throughout the swing, one of the reasons why this season she has hit more than 70 percent of both her fairways and greens, ranking her 28th and 17th on tour in each category, respectively.
She's Not Afraid To Keep Adapting
Ko caught a lot of heat last off-season for switching swing coaches (from Guy Wilson to David Leadbetter) shortly after turning pro, a decision for which she would appear to be vindicated given her recent victory. Ko said at the time of the switch that she wanted to keep improving, and for that, she needed a coach she could see more often: "I'd only see [Wilson] like 10 times a year, and to me that kind of situation didn't work out so that's why I thought it might be better to have a coach based somewhere in the States."
Talk to any of our equipment editors, and it won't take you long to discover that counter-balanced putters are here to stay. Some pros have been slow to embrace these advances, but not Ko. After her switch from Srixon to Callaway earlier this year, she put an Odyssey Tank Cruiser V-Line counter-balanced putter in the bag, which she used in her victory last week.
Most "I'm turning pro" announcements are pretty drab affairs. But Ko's announcement was markedly different. She turned pro in a YouTube video while playing golf with a professional rugby player. It was all rather sweet.
She Has Worldwide Appeal
With globalization affecting every industry on the planet, it's actually quite convenient that the South Korea-born, New Zealand-raised Ko has come to the forefront of women's golf in the United States.
Ko (17), Lexi Thompson (19) and Michelle Wie (24) are the LPGA Tour's last three winners, and they're generally contemporaries. If each of them continue building on their recent success, the LPGA could have a dream scenario on its hands for the foreseeable future.
We found this out for ourselves in our My Shot interview with her in March. Here are two from that interview:
— Golf Digest (@GolfDigestMag) April 28, 2014
Ko: "Our people are not lazy, we just don't see the need to be rushed. When I visit a crowded city, I get a headache" http://t.co/hGfdyfjha4
— Stina Sternberg (@StinaSternberg) April 28, 2014 Oh, yea. And did we mention she's only 17?