Golf prodigy Lydia Ko, currently holding the coveted title of World No. 1, is not just known for her exceptional skills and competitive drive on the greens. In a recent interview with Olympics.com, she delved into her journey towards becoming the best golfer in the world, shedding light on her continuous pursuit of excellence and her aspirations for the Paris 2024 Olympics.
Lydia Ko, an iconic figure from New Zealand, has always been forthright in her discussions, advocating for more open conversations among female athletes regarding topics that may impact their performance. A year ago, during the finals rounds of the 2022 Palos Verdes Championship, she appeared to be experiencing discomfort. Concerns arose when she was seen being stretched by her physiotherapist, leading to speculations about potential back and hip issues. However, it was revealed that the source of her discomfort was her menstrual cycle, breaking a taboo surrounding periods in sports.
Addressing her soreness, Ko candidly acknowledged, “It’s that time of the month. I know the ladies watching are probably like, yeah, I got you…” This marked the beginning of her efforts to normalize conversations about menstruation within the realm of sports. In an exclusive interview with Olympics.com, as she prepared for the 2023 Chevron Championships, one of the major tournaments in women’s professional golf, she expressed her hope that such openness would alleviate the need for individuals to explicitly disclose their menstrual status. Instead, she aimed for a broader understanding that physical changes during menstruation are a natural aspect of being human.
Lydia Ko’s rise to stardom in golf began at a young age, where she displayed immense talent even when competing against professional golfers. Introduced to the sport while visiting her aunt in Australia at the tender age of five, she quickly immersed herself in the game.
Seeking proper guidance, her parents arranged for professional coaching to lay a solid foundation for her skills. Reflecting on her early days, she fondly recalled approaching strangers on putting greens, challenging them to friendly competitions—an early indicator of her love for the sport.
As a young golf sensation, Ko swiftly ascended the ranks and found herself competing with seasoned professionals in a sport that wasn’t widely popular in her home country. Golf, especially in New Zealand, faced its challenges, including limited access to golf courses and practice facilities. Undeterred, Ko’s parents improvised by transforming regular sneakers into golf shoes, a resourceful solution to the unavailability of junior golf footwear.
Having participated in competitions from an early age, Ko garnered a remarkable amateur record, earning accolades in the LPGA. At the age of 15, she achieved a historic feat by securing victory in an LPGA Tour event, becoming the youngest-ever winner of such an event. Just two years later, she etched her name in the annals of golf history once again, becoming the youngest player ever to claim the coveted No. 1 ranking in professional golf—an extraordinary accomplishment for a teenager.
One of the standout moments in Ko’s career was her triumph at the 2015 Evian Championship, where she became the youngest woman to win a major championship at the age of 18 years, 4 months, and 20 days. Recounting the experience, she shared her elation, describing the event as “really cool” and expressing her satisfaction in surpassing the record previously held by Morgan Pressley, who won her first major at 18 years and 313 days.
Before Ko’s breakthrough, American golfer Morgan Pressley held the distinction of being the youngest-ever winner of a modern LPGA major, highlighting the significance of Ko’s accomplishments at such a tender age. The Kiwi prodigy’s exceptional journey and trailblazing achievements continue to inspire aspiring golfers worldwide.