I still can’t believe that Lydia Ko is just 23. But then, I still can’t believe that I’m hurtling towards 45. 

As I stood in front of the mirror the other day, gently regrouting my crow’s feet while poking quizzically at the various lines on my face like a bamboozled tourist trying to plot a journey on the map of the London Underground, I became acutely aware of the passing of time. Even the bottle of embalming fluid in the bathroom cabinet had passed its sell by date.

Ko, meanwhile, is certainly not past her best. In recent weeks, there have been a few players bridging sizeable title gaps. Indeed, the likes of Ko, Jordan Spieth and Hideki Matsuyama had been in the midst of the kind of drought that just about led to them being issued with a hose pipe ban from the game’s governing bodies.

Spieth’s win in the Texas Open was his first for 1351 days. Matsuyama’s major Masters moment at Augusta was his first win for 1344 days. And Ko’s magnificent seven-shot romp at the Lotte Championship in Hawaii at the weekend was her first win in 1084 days. The good old days have returned.

Winning is never easy, even when the likes of Ko, who seems to have been around for ages, made it look easy. From the age of 15, when she won her first LPGA Tour title as an amateur, Ko set about breaking more records than a startled bull at a second-hand vinyl fare as she stood alone as the most talented teenager, not just in golf, but in sport.

With her chatty, approachable and cheery demeanour, Ko proved that you could still have that competitive killer instinct required to dominate the game without being cold and aloof. Her modesty was as impressive as her golf.

Ko left other golfing sensations in her wake. Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and the aforementioned Spieth, for instance, were 20, 19 and 19 respectively when they won their first tour titles. Annika Sorenstam, arguably the greatest female golfer with 10 majors among her 72 LPGA Tour wins, didn’t start racking up the victories until she was 24. At 18, Ko was already in double digits.


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Of course, in a game full of perils and pitfalls, progress is never blissfully serene. Winning when everybody expects you to win creates a huge burden of expectation. It’s always been that way. The great Mickey Wright, who passed away last year at the age of 85, enjoyed a wonderful period of pomp and prolific prosperity in the swinging 60s but had her own views on constantly topping the golfing hit parade.

“It was a lot of pressure to be in contention week after week for five or six years,” she said. “I guess they call it burnout now, but it wore me out. Unless you’re a golfer, you can’t understand the tension and pressure of tournament play.”

And here’s me thinking that maintaining the weekly column was a shimmering example of stoic longevity?

During an earlier barren spell for Ko, a variety of off-course choppings and changings had created an uneasy atmosphere of negativity and controversy. If she wasn’t changing clubs, she was changing coaches. If she wasn’t changing coaches, she was changing caddies. The analysis and scrutiny about this, that and the other was so intense, it was if Ko had been plonked in a petri dish and microscopically examined under laboratory conditions.

In her quest to return to her previous majesty, her down to earth personality seemed to endure amid the toils and troubles. At the 2019 Women’s Open at Woburn, for example, a few of us scribblers were waiting in the recording area to speak to someone or other who had posted a decent score. Ko had just shot an 80, was sitting second last and had missed the cut by a country mile, but the former world No 1 still smiled, laughed, chatted and signed autographs for an eager gathering of children. It said a lot about her character and you couldn’t help but will her on to better things.

Those better things have now arrived with a 16th LPGA Tour win. When she was 17, Ko stated that she would like to retire at the age of 30. She really does make me feel old.


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The revelation the other night about a new football Super League has generated the kind of seismic, shuddering impact that was akin to the meteor that obliterated the dinosaurs. 

When eye-brow raising proposals for a breakaway Premier Golf League were unveiled last year, there was similar fist-shaking about greed and closed-shop competition.

It wasn’t an idea that particularly roused my own senses. Golf’s unpredictability, and the breadth and depth of its competitive waters, is one of its great attributes. At 47, Stewart Cink, who beat the then 59-year-old Tom Watson to The Open back in 2009, won his second PGA Tour title in seven months on Sunday. “I prepared for a dog fight but no dogs turned up to fight,” he said as the young pups failed to lay a glove on his commanding lead. 

There’s plenty of life in this auld dog yet. And golf, this great generation game, is always richer for such triumphs.