Golf star Ko hits Queenstown courses

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Teenage golf sensation Lydia Ko hit a succession of birdies as she played two rounds with Queenstown philanthropists.

The world’s top amateur golfer returned to the resort this weekend after offering to be a golfing partner as a prize at a charity auction.

Millionaire investor Sir Eion Edgar and Queenstown lawyer Graeme Todd both successfully bid for nine-hole rounds with the 15-year-old New Zealander at the Mountain Scene Thriller in the Chiller boxing event during Queenstown Winter Festival.

Ko had agreed to help raise funds for Coastguard Queenstown while playing at the inaugural NZ PGA Pro-Am Championship at The Hills, near Arrowtown, in February.

Since then she’s won both the US Amateur Championships and the Canadian Open on the Ladies Professional Golf Association Tour – becoming one of the hottest prospects in world golf.

Ko says: “It’s been a good couple of months.

“I was fading off in April and started slow at the US Open but I think my kick point was there. I got my confidence and went up from there.

“To me US AM was a much more important win rather than the Canadian Open at this stage.

“I’m only 15 so I don’t get the LPGA Tour card or anything and the US AM is one of the biggest amateur events in the world, so to me it was more beneficial to win that. It was great to win the Canadian Open as well though.”

Ko played a round at Millbrook on Saturday with Todd’s wife Jane, friends and clients. Today (Sunday) she played Jack’s Point with Jan Lady Edgar, Sue Gain and Ko’s mum Tina Hyon.

“Graeme actually caddied for me yesterday. It was great and Queenstown is even more beautiful this time around with the snow on the hills.

“It was the first time my mum played in ages, she struggled.

“I played well both times, although it was really cold yesterday. I’ve got a cold so it makes it a lot worse. But they’re both good courses and it was fun.”

Ko claimed top individual honours at the women’s world amateur teams championships in Turkey last weekend.

It capped a phenomenal year. The youngster was the second youngest winner in the US AM’s 117-year history and the youngest to win a title on the LPGA tour in its 62-year history.

The victories ensured she secured the Mark McCormack Medal for the world’ top-ranked amateur for a second successive year.

Sir Eion says: “She is amazing. Unbelievable talent and a real asset to New Zealand.

“She hits the ball so well and her putting was incredible – she hit three birdies during the round. Lydia also has such a lovely nature. She’s very good with people and open.”