Golf: Easy-going phenom

She is one of the most talked about female golfers in the world, and one of the most sought-after names on tour.

In the modern world of sport, superstars and even talented prodigies are very often late for their various commitments.

Refreshingly, Lydia Ko was punctual on Wednesday, arriving promptly for a media session at the Sentosa Golf Club.

Wearing black-rimmed spectacles and a shy, wide smile, those who didn't know would not have guessed she was the teenage sensation who has taken women's golf by storm.

The New Paper asked how she felt about the buzz which has followed her around the world.

To put it simply, the 16-year-old takes it all in stride.

"The pressure I think came with the two (LPGA) wins (the Canadian Women's Open in 2012 and 2013)," said Lydia.

"I didn't expect to win those, it all happened quicker than what I would have planned a couple years ago.

"But everything is going good, and I've been trying to concentrate on my game.

"All I can do is try my best.

"Sometimes I'm not going to finish well... I can't play good every day, and I accept that."

TRAILBLAZER

Lydia blazed a trail as an amateur, staying at the top of the world rankings for 130 weeks.

At age 15, she became the youngest person to win a professional tour event two years ago when she won the Canadian Women's Open in 2012.

She turned professional only five months ago and is already ranked No. 4 in the world.

The New Zealander looks like the girl next door, there is absolutely no airs about her.

She fielded questions easily on Wednesday and her maturity shone through.

Lydia, who will tee off in the first round of the HSBC Women's Champions today, didn't blush or fend off the tag when she was described as a "phenomenon".

"I know a lot of people call me that. But, I'm just Lydia and I'm comfortable being me," she said.

"That's why I love being home. My friends treat me like any other friend and teenager.

"I like that I have a sporting life and a private life, where you don't need to be out there playing good golf."

Lydia was in her last year of high school when she and her parents decided she should make the jump into pro golf last October.

Everything was well thought out, she insisted.She plans to enrol in university - possibly in her ancestral home of South Korea - next year, but studies will have to be done via long-distance learning.

"Golf is my main priority and you can't play 10 tournaments and get to go to school," said Lydia, who aims to major in photography, her main passion outside of golf.

"I heard Michelle (Wie) had to take an exam just before teeing off a few times; that's what we had in mind."

Though on the road for the most part over the last two years, Lydia has kept her family close.

MANAGES

Her mother, Tina Hyon, manages her career and accompanies her to almost every tournament.

"My mum's always there 24/7. We always get a room together and sometimes have to share beds. That's the great thing about a mother-daughter relationship," she said.

"I don't see my dad too often because it's much easier travelling as two.

"I miss him and my sister, but they're always supporting me the whole way."

aakasim@sph.com.sg

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