On top of the world: Lydia Ko is youngest No. 1

Lydia Ko becomes the youngest world number one ever at just 17 years of age

Lydia Ko is now officially the best female golfer on the planet at just 17

Golf’s teenage phenomenon, Lydia Ko, continues to break records at a rate that even a young Tiger never quite managed, becoming world number one at just 17

New Zealand sensation Lydia Ko has added another incredible accolade to her already impressive list of achievements by becoming the youngest ever world number one in either the men’s or women’s world rankings at just 17 years of age, eclipsing previous record-holder Tiger Woods by four years.

Ko gave up a four-shot lead to slip to joint 2nd in this week’s LPGA season-opening Coates Championship, but the points she gained were still sufficient to see her depose Inbee Park at the pinnacle of the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings.

Tiger was 21 when he first reached the top of the men’s game in 1997, going on to top the rankings for 683 weeks in total, including 281 consecutive weeks between 2005 and 2010. The previous youngest female number one was South Korean Jiyai Shin who reached the top in 2010 aged 22.

Ko is just the ninth woman to reach the top of the ladies’ rankings, which have been in existence since 2006. Annika Sorenstam and Lorena Ochoa dominated proceedings for the first four years, before Cristie Kerr, Ai Miyazato and Jiyai Shin then shared the honours for a while. Yani Tseng then took control for a couple of years, and for the last two it has been Stacy Lewis and Inbee Park fighting it out at the top until Ko just edged ahead this week.

Ko became the youngest winner of an LPGA Tour event in the Canadian Women's Open in August 2012 at the age of 15 while still an amateur, an event she successfully defended the following year while also still an amateur. In between, she also won the Women’s New Zealand Open on the Ladies’ European Tour. Indeed, she played 25 pro events in total while still an amateur and never missed a cut, climbing to world number five before she turned pro in October 2013. Since then she has added three more LPGA titles, finishing 3rd on the 2014 money list in her first full season as a professional.

The question, of course, now is that if she has achieved all this four years before she’s old enough to drink in the States, just what might she achieve throughout her career? The world does, indeed, appear to be her oyster…

Jeremy Ellwood
Contributing Editor

Jeremy Ellwood has worked in the golf industry since 1993 and for Golf Monthly since 2002 when he started out as equipment editor. He is now a freelance journalist writing mainly for Golf Monthly across the whole spectrum from courses and Rules to equipment and instruction. He also edits The Golf Club Secretary Newsletter, a highly regarded trade publication for golf club secretaries and managers, and has authored or co-authored three books and written for a number of national papers including The Telegraph and The Independent. He is a senior panelist for Golf Monthly's Top 100 UK & Ireland Course Rankings and has played all of the Top 100 plus 91 of the Next 100, making him well-qualified when it comes to assessing and comparing our premier golf courses. He has now played well over 950 golf courses worldwide in 35 countries, right across the spectrum from the humblest of nine-holers in the Scottish Highlands to the very grandest of international golf resorts, but put him on a links course anywhere and he will be blissfully content.

Jezz can be contacted via Twitter - @JezzEllwoodGolf

Jeremy is currently playing...

Driver: Ping G425 LST 10.5˚ (draw setting), Mitsubishi Tensei AV Orange 55 S shaft

3 wood: Ping G425 Max 15˚ (set to flat +1), Mitsubishi Tensei AV Orange 65 S shaft

Hybrid: Ping G425 17˚, Mitsubishi Tensei CK Pro Orange 80 S shaft

Irons 3-PW: Ping i525, True Temper Dynamic Gold 105 R300 shafts

Wedges: Ping Glide 4.0 50˚ and 54˚, 12˚ bounce, True Temper Dynamic Gold 105 R300 shafts

Putter: Ping Fetch 2021 model, 33in shaft (set flat 2)

Ball: Varies but mostly now TaylorMade Tour Response