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Ko in position to become youngest LPGA winner in history
August 24, 2012

Lydia Ko -8, (a)
Chella Choi -8, Rolex Ranking No. 45
Angela Stanford -5, Rolex Ranking No. 19
Na Yeon Choi -5, Rolex Ranking No. 4
Inbee Park -5, Rolex Ranking No. 11
Suzann Pettersen -4, Rolex Ranking No. 6
Yani Tseng -3, Rolex Ranking No. 1

U.S. Amateur Champion Lydia Ko didn’t look at a leaderboard until the 15th hole on Friday, at which point she realized why all the cameras were showing up to shoot her round. The 15-year-old amateur shares the 36-hole lead with Chella Choi at 8-under-par 136 in her bid to become the youngest winner in LPGA Tour history at the 2012 CN Canadian Women’s Open.

Ko made four birdies on the back-nine at Vancouver Golf Club – including three consecutive on holes 12, 13 and 14 – to shoot her second-straight 68. Should she hang on to win this week, Ko would be just the fifth amateur to win on the LPGA Tour and first since JoAnne Carner in 1969.

“Today I didn't make any bogeys, and that was really helpful,” Ko said. “My goal was 4-under today, and I shot 4-under on the back nine which is good once again, and I did that yesterday as well.”

Chella Choi grabbed a share of the lead with a bogey-free 8-under-par 64 on Friday. Currently 45th on the Rolex Rankings, Choi is enjoying a solid year with four top-10 finishes to her credit, including a tie for second at the first Canadian event of the year, the Manulife Financial LPGA Classic in June.

“My condition was bad yesterday, and two days ago, (because) my left shoulder was hurting and very tight,” Choi said. “But yesterday I massaged it there, so my condition is better, and my shot and putting was perfect day today.”

Choi, who will celebrate her 22nd birthday on Saturday, was thrilled with her round, but happier still to make the cut following back-to-back missed cuts – and depressing birthdays – at the last two CN Canadian Women’s Opens.

Amateurs to win an LPGA event

Polly Riley, 1950 Tampa Open
Pat O’Sullivan, 1951 Titleholders Championship

Catherine LaCoste, 1967 U.S. Women’s Open
JoAnne Carner, 1969 Burdine’s Invitational

Youngest winners in LPGA Tour history

Lexi Thompson, 2011 Navistar LPGA Classic (72-hole event) at 16 years, 8 months, 8 days
Marlene Hagge, 1952 Sarasota Open (18-hole event) at 18 years, 14 days
Marlene Hagge, 1952 Bakersfield Open (18-hole event) at 18 years, 2 months, 15 days
Paula Creamer, 2005 Sybase Classic presented by Lincoln Mercury (72-hole event) at 18 years, 9 month, 17 days
Morgan Pressel, 2007 Kraft Nabisco Championship (72-hole event) at 18 years, 10 months, 9 days
Paula Creamer, 2005 Evian Masters (72-hole event), 18 years, 11 months, 18 days

A total of 76 players made the cut, which fell at 3-over par at 147.

. Most 15-year-olds are in the beginning stages of exploring options and stressing out about post-secondary education. There are few, if any, who start considering a professional career in sports following high school graduation. For Lydia Ko, who is already off to a staggering start to her professional golf career, she might try balancing both.

“Lots of the players that I used to play with, they went to college right after high school, so that kind of got me into saying I want to go to college as well,” Ko said. “That's been my goal. One of my goals since ages ago. So yeah, I don't want to hurry anything. Like I said, I enjoy school a lot. Personally, I think you need to study and it will help with your game. Like if you do math, it will help you read the lies or whatever. That's what my mom says at least.”

Ko’s golf resume is not one that many 15-year-olds can boast. She has played in 10 professional golf events, ranks as the world’s top amateur golfer and won the U.S. Amateur Championship just two weeks ago. Although gaining ample experience on the course, Ko finds herself missing a normal teenage life and more than 75 days of school this term.

“I'm definitely missing out on teenager activities,” Ko said. “I'd love to go out on Saturday night with my friends and watch a movie, but that happens really like once a year or a couple times a year. Now I'm realizing golf is like a full-time job, and I'm missing a lot of school. At this age I should be going to school every day.”

Despite her extended absence from school, Ko still puts her studies at a high priority and plans to attend Standford University like one of her favorite LPGA players, Michelle Wie.

“I want to go to college definitely and somewhere in California, and I want to go to Stanford,” Ko said. “I like Michelle Wie because she went to Stanford. I don't want to go to Stanford because she went there. It's just I like Stanford, so kind of that direction.”

Both 12-year veterans on the LPGA Tour Angela Stanford and Suzann Pettersen felt old after Friday’s round when they looked up at the scoreboard to see a 15-year-old leading the pack. Many top-finishers today were asked if they remembered what they were doing at 15 and Stanford replied “I was a car hop at Sonic, so that's what I was doing.”

Stanford still recognized the young talent, acknowledged her successful amateur career and gave her props for finishing well on a course that plays difficult for many.

“She's a good one,” Stanford said. “So at least she's a great player, and she's played internationally. So she's probably -- her putter's probably hot. You've got to be putting it well here.”

Pettersen was taken aback when she saw Lydia Ko’s name at the top of the leaderboard, which may have given her more determination heading into Saturday’s round.

“There are a few adjustments I have to make, and there are two more rounds so hopefully we can get a few more birdies in there and make a charge on the 15-year-old,” Pettersen said.

“(When I was 15) I was a car hop at Sonic. So that's what I was doing.” – Angela Stanford on 15-year-old Lydia Ko leading the field

Chella Choi was one-stroke off the Vancouver Golf Club’s course record after carding an 8-under 64 in Friday’s round. Defending champion Brittany Lincicome is 1-over-par 145 entering the third round. Rolex Rankings No. 1 Yani Tseng is five shots back at 3-under-par 141.

CN CANADIAN WOMEN'S OPEN
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