Even as Ya Ni Yseng was holding off Karrie Webb, among many others closer to her age in Thailand, to win the LPGA's opening event and her 4th tournament in 4 2011 starts, Kristie Smith held off Laura Davies, among many others closer to her age on Sunday in the Pegagus New Zealand Ladies Open. As bangkokbobby points out, Smith's gain was Guilia Sergas's loss, as the rising Italian star fell from -16 with 2 holes to play in her 3rd round to -8 after 3 holes in her 1st round. She'd recover to play her last 15 holes in -1 in tricky winds, but by then the damage had been done. Smith played her opening 12 holes Sunday in bogey-free golf, making 4 birdies in that span before bogeying the par-4 13th. At that point her lead on Sergas and fellow Futures Tour prodigy Tiffany Joh was 3 shots, and that's where it stayed, as all 3 players birdied the par-5 18th to end their weeks in style. A huge disappointment for Sergas was a huge step for T-Joh and a huge win for Smith.
It was also a huge week for 13-year-old New Zealand amateur Lydia Ko, as she tied LET star Melissa Reid for 4th at -7, only 5 shots off the pace set by Smith and 2 behind Joh and Sergas. To put that in perspective, she beat Reilley Rankin by 2 shots, Laura Davies and Linda Wessberg by 3 shots, Lorie Kane, Katie Futcher, and Sarah Kemp by 4, Christel Boeljon and Caroline Hedwall (who a few weeks ago had benefitted from Ko's closing 3-putt to win an ALPG event) by 5, Jaclyn Sweeney by 6, Sarah Jane Smith, Sarah Oh, and Nikki Garrett by 7, Maria Hernandez, Jimin Jeong, Amelia Lewis, and Alison Whitaker by 8, Belen Mozo, Cindy LaCrosse, and fellow teenage New Zealand amateur Cecelia Cho by 9, Anja Monke, Becky Brewerton, Pernilla Lindberg, and Caroline Masson by 10, Diana D'Alessio, Alison Walshe, Hannah Jun, and Jeehae Lee by 11, Lindsey Wright, Sophie Giquel, and Stephanie Na by 12, Rebecca Hudson and Florentyna Parker by 13, Becky Morgan by 15, and Louise Friberg by 16. Not to mention Louise Stahle, Cathryn Bristow, Mollie Fankhauser, Dewi Claire Schreefel, Titiya Plucksataporn, and Frances Bondad, who missed the cut. Move over, Lexi Thompson! Top-ranked U.S. girls golfer Ariya Jutanugarn snagged a T8 yesterday on the LPGA, but Ko's 2011 is so far the most impressive of any teenager's!