• Text size      
  • Send this article to a friend
  • Print this article

The likes of Lydia Ko are proving that the LPGA Tour is a young woman's game . . .

Apart from, say, the timeless Bruce Forsyth, who will no doubt outlive everybody on the planet, we are all potential fodder for the limpet tentacles of the ageing process as it slowly creeps and coils itself around our ankles before entangling us in its withering, wizened embrace.

17-year-old Lydia Ko has been named one of Time magazine's 100 most influential people. Picture: Getty Images
17-year-old Lydia Ko has been named one of Time magazine's 100 most influential people. Picture: Getty Images

There are those days, for instance, when you bump into an old colleague you've not seen for years, and they look far more decrepit than they used to, with a face like a haunted cave, and you mutter to yourself 'crikey, I hope I've aged better than that' before you realise it's not an old colleague at all, but your own reflection in the pub window. Yes, youth is fleeting so you may as well frolic in its fountain while you can.

Look at Lydia Ko. In the same week as she celebrated her 17th birthday and was named one of Time magazine's 100 most influential people, the New Zealander capped it off by winning the LPGA Tour's boisterously titled Swinging Skirts Classic in San Francisco on Sunday night.

Having won four professional titles as an amateur, this was her sixth overall and her first on the LPGA Tour since joining the paid ranks late year. Even ducks don't take to the water this easily.

Since 2012, Ko has played in a total of 25 LPGA events and has not missed a single cut. So far in 2014, she has played nine events, made every cut, knocked off a victory, posted two other top-fives and a trio of additional top-10s.

For the LPGA circuit, April seemed to be showered with significant storylines. There is certainly something stirring in the women's scene. Lexi Thompson, another member of the teenage brigade, opened the month by winning her first major at the Kraft Nabisco Championship. Then you had a revitalised Michelle Wie winning in Hawaii the other weekend before the bespectacled Ko took centre stage in California.

The 2014 campaign as a whole has also been illuminated by notable victories for headline acts like Paula Creamer, Karrie Webb and Jessica Korda. As they continue the struggle to emerge from the shadow of the men's game, those looking to raise the profile on the female front could not have asked for a better start to the season.

With the US Women's Open taking place the week before - and over the same Pinehurst course - as the men's equivalent and the Ricoh Women's British Open at Royal Birkdale being staged immediately before the Open Championship just down the road at Hoylake, there are real opportunities to showcase the game under this global spotlight.

The youthful, care-free exuberance of Ko and, on this side of the Atlantic, the 18-year-old Charley Hull, can be highly useful weapons in the constant battle to promote junior golf and increase participation among girls at a grassroots level.

Laura Davies, the grande dame of British women's golf, is certainly convinced that Hull, who starred for Europe in last year's Solheim Cup victory and won her first tour title in Morocco last month, can have a significant impact.

"It has to be an inspiration for any young girl watching the Solheim Cup or any of these other tournaments," said Davies, during a blether at last week's Ricoh Women's Open media day. "If you are 12 or 13, Charley is only a few years ahead of that. She is setting an example to the young kids to come through and play. That's what Tiger Woods did; that's why you see so many young players on tour now, because Tiger made the game interesting."

Hull is now dipping her toes in American waters and the riches of the LPGA Tour will be her ultimate destination. On this side of the pond, the Ladies European Tour remains in something of a transitional period with new chief executive Ivan Khodabakhsh working hard to provide a meatier schedule. There has not been an event since mid-March and there will be just two in May, one in June and one in August. "We are hearing good things but it has to get better otherwise the girls on the tour are going to drift out of the game; they have to earn money," warned the 50-year-old Davies.

There was no money on offer at the Helen Holm Scottish Women's Amateur Championship at Royal Troon on Sunday, of course, but the currency of Charley was certainly jangling as a series of gifted, ambitious 16 and 17-year-olds all expressed their admiration at Hull's achievements and the inspiration they have taken from them.

Among these talented teens was Connie Jaffrey, the Scottish Girls' champion and Troon Ladies' member who took second place at the weekend. Asked about her experiences of Royal Troon, the 17-year-old informed the assembled scribblers that it was something of a rare outing there for her. "They are quite tight on the rules and I don't get to use the practice putting green which is unfortunate," she said of the male-only club.

Despite the "harmonious co-existence" of Royal Troon and Troon Ladies, it seems a shame that a local prospect such as Jaffrey faces barriers in her own back yard at a time when junior golf is blossoming.

Contextual targeting label: 
Sport

Commenting & Moderation

We moderate all comments on HeraldScotland on either a pre-moderated or post-moderated basis.
If you're a relatively new user then your comments will be reviewed before publication and if we know you well and trust you then your comments will be subject to moderation only if other users or the moderators believe you've broken the rules

Moderation is undertaken full-time 9am-6pm on weekdays, and on a part-time basis outwith those hours. Please be patient if your posts are not approved instantly.

229767