Updated: Thursday, 23 January 2014 13:58 | By Agence France-Presse

Teen star Ko ready to go as LPGA season begins

Lydia Ko has jumped to fourth in the world rankings as the LPGA season begins Thursday, but the 16-year-old South Korean-born New Zealander has not adjusted to her lofty spot.


Teen star Ko ready to go as LPGA season begins

Lydia Ko pictured during the CME Group Titleholders tournament in Florida on November 22, 2013 - by Sam Greenwood

"Not at all, " she said. "I don't think it's something you kind of get used to."

Ko will play her first event as an LPGA Tour member starting Thursday at the $1.3 million Bahamas LPGA Classic on Paradise Island.

And while she is starting her rookie campaign, Ko feels like anything but a novice after earning a spot among the elite women's players in the world.

"I have this kind of feeling inside going, 'I'm finally an LPGA rookie,'" Ko said. "Yeah, I guess things came really fast. I'm just really enjoying the moment."

Ko played her first pro event at last year's season-ending LPGA Titleholders event. Since then she has a new equipment deal and is working with a new coach, David Leadbetter, since her former coach would have been based in New Zealand most of her season.

"A lot of people are like, suddenly big changes. After turning pro you're doing this, this and this different," she said. "But I love a challenge and I personally don't like my coach being there at a tournament. I thought it would be better to get a coach near where I would be based."

Ko, who is looking at making Orlando, Florida her new home base, is paired with world number three Stacy Lewis of the United States, who was on hand to see Ko's first title at the Canadian Women's Open and was excited to practice with Swedish veteran Suzann Pettersen.

"I can't believe it," Ko said. "I was watching Suzann hit some balls, and I'm like, 'Wow, I'm actually hitting next to Suzann.'

"I played with Stacy for the first time at the US Open (in 2012) and I was really nervous. It's the same feeling, but to kind of have known her a little better than I did two years ago, it kind of makes it more better and more relaxed."

Ko said she was shocked at some of the reaction to her changes back in New Zealand.

"I was so surprised. I didn't even know it would make a story, but it was like big news in New Zealand," she said.

"I guess a lot of people gave me advice saying this is what happens when you're up there. It's not always going to be good. There is going to be negatives, as well.

"I kind of tried to go past it then. I talked to a couple other players, and they supported me. I had to do what was the best for me and my situation, and a lot of other people gave me support in that as well."

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