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Thursday, April 30, 2009

Cecilia Cho (14) beats Lydia Ko (12) in youngest

ever final of New Zealand women's amateur

Auckland 14-year-old Cecilia Cho became the second youngest player to win the women’s honours at the Lion Foundation New Zealand Amateur golf championships in Auckland this week.
She held off the challenge over 36 holes from 12-year-old Lydia Ko (Pupuke) in what proved the youngest finalists in the 115-year history of the amateur championship, at Titirangi Golf Club.
Western Australia’s Matt Jager, 20, proved too strong for South Africa’s Nicol van Wyk to take out the men’s title 6 and 5, also over 36 holes, for the best win of his young career.
Cho, four-up after 18 holes, held off a brief comeback from Ko to win 4 and 3. The South Island Amateur champion was three weeks and three days older than Auckland’s Larissa Eruera was when she won the amateur title in 2006.
While there was widespread interest in the performance of Ko, the North Island Amateur champion, in her quest to become the youngest ever winner, Cho used a simple game plan to win the amateur crown.
“My plan was to keep things simple. I wanted to keep the ball in play on the fairways,” Cho said. “I just kept on getting pars and being consistent. Lydia made some mistakes and that gave me a good lead.
“I was really nervous today and couldn’t really see the ball on the first tee. I didn’t sleep very well last night.
“It was my goal to win this and now I have achieved it. I can now go on with golf,” said Cho who is currently seeking citizenship that would enable her to represent New Zealand in the near future.
She was four up after just seven holes and from that point did not relinquish her grip on the match, being flat with the card after her first round. Ko won three in a row in the middle of the afternoon round but Cho birdied the 33rd hole to seal the title.
Ko, who turned 12 last Friday, impressed many with her coach Guy Wilson predicting a big future.
“The sky’s the limit really for Lydia. As long as the interest remains and she can keep developing, then she has a huge future in the game.”
She hit the ball well today but missed numerous chances on the greens to fight her way back into the match.
Jager, who won a major tournament in Argentina last summer, was in complete control of the men's final, adding touch on the greens to the pure ball-striking that he has produced during the tournament.
He was six up after 15 holes with an eagle and four birdies before going to the break at four up. He pushed back out to a six-hole advantage after 24 holes and never allowed the steady South African back into the match.
“I had not played the 16th and 17th well all week so it was good that I did not have to play it again this afternoon,” the 20 year old said. “I hit the ball really well tee to green right through the tournament. Today was the best I have putted in a long, long time which proved the difference. This is a real highlight for me.”
Results of 36-hole finals:
Lion Foundation New Zealand Amateur Championships, Titirangi GC:
Cecilia Cho (Pakuranga) bt Lydia Ko (Pupuke) 4 and 3 (Cho led 4-up after 18).
Men: Matt Jager (Australia) bt Nicol van Wyk (South Africa) 6 and 5 (Jager led 4-up after 18 holes).

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