Sporting star Lydia Ko came swinging into collective consciousness in 2015 when the Korean-born New Zealander became the world’s number one ranked professional woman golfer. At just 17 years of age, she was the youngest player of either gender to be ranked number one in the sport.
Labelled as a transcendent figure in the sport in 2017 by LPGA Commissioner Michael Whan, she has paved the way for young girls to enter a male dominated sport and demonstrated just what is possible when you’re led by your heart.
“Some players change records, but what Lydia has done is change expectations for every young girl,” Whan says.
“It used to be you’d dream of making it to the LPGA someday, but someday meant in your 20s, and playing your best golf even later. Lydia has changed those expectations.
“Girls believe they can now do it at 14 and that’s because she was the one who did it first.”
Metropol caught up with the world-leader on the road for the 2019 LPGA Tour.
What drives you as a sportswoman?
I love the continuous challenge of the game and thrill of competing! I feel like there is no perfect round of golf and no matter what ranked player you are, you can always improve!
You have taken out some of the biggest accolades in the sport both nationally and globally, what have been some of the most memorable experiences for you?
Winning my two majors was probably some of the biggest moments in my career so far. However, I think my favourite moment ever was competing in the 2016 Rio Olympics and to be able to represent not only myself, but also my country and to be in that atmosphere alongside the best athletes in the world.
How did it feel to become a Member of the Order of New Zealand (MNZM) in the New Year’s Honours?
It is a huge honour to have received the MNZM! I’m very lucky to be able to do what I love. To be awarded this prestigious Royal New Zealand honour is something I’m very grateful and proud of.
You have been described as changing expectations for every young girl, how does it feel to be in a position to give future generations something to dream of and aspire to?
Hearing from juniors that I am their role model and that I inspire them, actually inspires me to become a better player, person and role model, and make the game a little bit better for them!
Why do you think you’ve been able to do so well – is it hard work, dedication, passion or all of the above?
I think I have been very fortunate with the things that have happened in my career so far and I truly believe I am where I am today because of all the love and support all my team and family have given me every step of the way.
What do the next 12 months have in store for you?
This will be my 6th year on the LPGA for me! I’m really looking forward to another fun year on tour.