New Zealand’s Lydia Ko has been presented with the inaugural Mark H McCormack Medal for 2011 by professional world number two Suzann Pettersen.
Pettersen, in her role as an R&A Working for Golf Ambassador, made the presentation during practice at the LPGA Tour sanctioned ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open at Royal Melbourne where 14-year-old Ko will be taking on the world’s best players.
The R&A and United States Golf Association (USGA) award is in recognition of Ko’s success in 2011, however, her performances in recent weeks have made headlines around the world.
Now in her 42nd week on top of the WAGR, the South Korean-born New Zealander last month became one of the youngest ever winners of a professional tour event with a four shot victory in the Women’s New South Wales Open. January also saw her become the youngest winner of the Australian Women’s Amateur following a second place finish in the Australian Women’s Stroke Play Championship.
Ko, who also discovered earlier this week that winning the McCormack Medal has secured a place in the U.S. Women’s Open, said: “It is an amazing honour to be the first ever recipient of this award, and follow the footsteps of fellow Kiwi Danny Lee. This award sure was the cherry on the top for an amazing year for my team and me.
“To receive it from a Major winner such as Suzann Pettersen makes something amazing even better. She is someone I have looked up to throughout my career and to be here competing against her this week is going to be real fun!
“I could not in my wildest dreams have expected the start to 2012, I mean 2011 was crazy, and this is even better. I can’t wait to tee it up this week and test myself against the very best in the women’s game. This is where I want to be when I grow up, so to be able to do it when I am 14, it’s going to be real cool.”
A pupil at Pinehurst School, Auckland, Ko burst onto the international stage at the age of 12 when she finished leading amateur in the 2010 Pegasus New Zealand Women’s Open. She tied for seventh, and in the process became the youngest woman to make the cut in a Ladies European Tour event.
An impressive 2011 included becoming the first player to win both the Australian Ladies Stroke Play and New Zealand Ladies Stroke Play Championships in the same year. Ko was also co-Medalist at the U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship before being knocked out in the second round of match play.
Pettersen, who hosts the Suzann Junior Challenge event in her native Norway, was delighted to spend some time with one of the game’s rising stars.
The 2007 LPGA Championship winner said: “Like everyone else I have been hugely impressed with Lydia’s success. What she has already achieved at the tender age of 14 is completely unprecedented in our sport.
“Her all round game is incredible but what has impressed me the most is the way she has taken success in her stride and kept a down-to-earth attitude.
“I am sure she will remain at the top of the WAGRanking for a long time to come and will enjoy a long and successful career. I will be watching her closely this week!”
Click here to view a video of the presentation.