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Fifteen-year-old Ko shoots ten-under round at Australian Women's Open

updated 12:13 PM EST, Thu February 14, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Fifteen-year-old Lydia Ko fires an opening round of 63 to lead Australian Women's Open
  • Kiwi leads the tournament after carding 11 birdies and one eagle in her round on Thursday
  • Ko eclipses playing partners world No. 1 Yani Tseng and American Michelle Wie

(CNN) -- She's the latest teen prodigy to emerge from golf's conveyor belt and if she keeps producing stellar performances like this 15-year-old Lydia Ko may well shelve her plans to stay an amateur.

The Kiwi stormed to the top of the leaderboard at the Australian Women's Open in Canberra with a ten-under-par round of 63 that included 11 birdies, one eagle and, astonishingly, three bogeys.

Ko's round meant she eclipsed her playing partners, world No. 1 Yani Tseng and American Michelle Wie, another player who grabbed worldwide attention when she qualified for the Women's U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship aged just 10.

The teenager, who was born in South Korea, won her third professional tournament last week in her native New Zealand and leads by a shot in Canberra from Colombian Mariajo Uribe.

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And despite giving notice of her intentions, even if she were to win the £1.2 million tournament, she won't be able to claim any prize money as she still is still an amateur.

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"After my bogey on my first hole, which was the 10th, I thought 'what's today going to be like?' But after a couple of birdies, I started to feel pretty comfortable," she told the tournament's official website.

Ko needed just 30 shots to complete her front nine holes and her illustrious playing partners thought she could be on course for a record-breaking round of 59.

But Ko played down that it was on her mind during her round: "I've played good before and gone triple, par bogey or whatever. I didn't really think about what I was going to shoot. It was one shot at a time.''

Her performance certainly made a lasting impression on her partners. "Playing with Lydia, five-under (par) is like nothing," said Tseng, from Taiwan. "She still looks like 15. I don't know how she hits the ball that well. I'm not even close to her at 15.

"She is only 15 but she looks like a pro, so I mean I treat her like a pro, but I treat her like a child, too. I feel I'm getting old," the 24-year-old added.

Ko might now shelve plans to go to college and hone her game there in favor of turning professional. Her coach and mentor Guy Wilson hinted at the prospect after her victory at the New Zealand Open.

He told Fairfax Media: "Realistically she's probably going to look to turn pro next year, only because the opportunities now are pretty obvious. Wasting two years at college could be a disadvantage,"

The Australian Women's Open has a purse of $1.2 million but as an amateur, Ko won't be able to share in the spoils even if she ends up winning. But she does look set to improve on her official world ranking of 30.

Ko's tally of ten-under is the lowest score ever recorded at the Women's Australian Open, trumping Karrie Webb's nine-under 64 in Melbourne 13 years ago.

But due to preferred lies being in operation, where a player can clean and place their ball as long as it is on the fairway, due to several parts of the course being wet from over watering, Ko's 63 will not go into the record books.

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