Sometimes you forget that Lydia Ko is still only 24. She’s been accomplishing grand feats for so long, you actually have to flick through the record books to check that she wasn’t golf’s first title-winning foetus.

“I used to be the youngest one on tour and now there are girls that are three or four years younger than me which makes me feel a lot older,” smiled Ko, who is hardly what you’d call a gnarled veteran.

Here at Carnoustie, the two-time major winner and former world No 1, is gearing up for her 10th appearance in the AIG Women’s Open. 

Time hurtles by. The New Zealander’s debut in this particular showpiece was as an amateur at Hoylake in 2012. It’s not an outing she’ll forget. “We had horrible weather and it was a real welcome to the British Open,” she reflected with a shudder. “I think I shanked one and they blew the horn (to stop play) and I was like, ‘Yay’. You were so excited to get out of the rain.”

Despite the kind of buffeting you’d tend to get when you’re perched in the crow’s nest on the high seas, Ko finished in the top-20 that year. The weather in Angus this week doesn’t look too bad but, regardless of what Mother Nature has up her sleeve, Carnoustie, this wonderfully robust, unforgiving links, always provides a redoubtable examination.

“This might be the trickiest British Open I've played yet,” added Ko ahead of a first competitive appearance in this neck of the golfing woods. “I've heard a lot about this place. You have to be strategic around here. Par or sometimes a bogey is not the end of the world.”


As for Carnoustie’s famed, formidable closing stretch? “The 17th is a beast … and 18 is also a beast,” she said with a wary chuckle.

Ko, who was third in the Women’s Open at Turnberry in 2015, is coming into this week’s championship in fine fettle. A bronze medal-winning performance in the Tokyo Olympics was followed by a share of second in the Trust Golf Women’s Scottish Open at Dumbarnie Links last weekend. Ko’s closing course-record 63 on Sunday saw her hurtle up the field so quickly, she almost got three points on her licence.

“This will be my last tournament for pretty much  a month so it would be nice to cap off this stretch of events on a high,” said Ko as she looks to carry her purposeful, profitable form into the final major of the season. “One of my strategies at the Olympics was to play a little bit more aggressively, especially because there were only three medalists.

“That mind-set continued into last week. Dumbarnie was great and a really good lead-up for this week but it's also a very different type of golf course to here.

“But I think I'm just going to still try to play aggressively but, at the same time, make sure that I'm not making careless mistakes.”

Having won her first professional title as a 14-year-old amateur and her maiden LPGA Tour crown at just 15, Ko left golf’s other sensations in her wake. Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth, for instance, were 20, 19 and 19 respectively when they won their first tour titles. Annika Sorenstam, with 10 majors among her 72 LPGA Tour wins, didn’t start racking up the victories until she was 24. By the age of 18, Ko was already in double digits as she continued to break more records than a startled bull at a second-hand vinyl fair.


After a couple of lean years, and some high-profile choppings, changings, hirings and firings, Ko’s triumph in the Lotte Championship back in April was her first win in 1084 days.

Having declared her intention to retire by the age of 30 a couple of years ago, Ko is still working to that time scale. The clock, then, is ticking on her ambitions.

“Obviously, I have goals and doing the career Grand Slam is definitely one of my biggest goals as a golfer,” said Ko, who was the youngest golfer, male or female, to reach world No 1 at the age of 17. “I love this game but I feel like there's a lot of other things that I would like to do in my life.”