Golf: Record rise may never sink in, says Ko

Current World No.1 Lydia Ko of New Zealand poses for photogaphers during the launch event of the HSBC Women's Golf Champions in Singapore, on March 3, 2015. The HSBC Women's Golf Champions will take place on Serapong Golf Course at Sentosa Island fro
Current World No.1 Lydia Ko of New Zealand poses for photogaphers during the launch event of the HSBC Women's Golf Champions in Singapore, on March 3, 2015. The HSBC Women's Golf Champions will take place on Serapong Golf Course at Sentosa Island from March 5-8, 2015. -- PHOTO: EPA

SINGAPORE (AFP) - Teenage sensation Lydia Ko said her record rise to world number one still has not sunk in and may never do as she heads into this week's HSBC Women's Champions in Singapore.

Ko astounded the golf world last month by reaching number one at the age of just 17, the youngest by a male or female player and smashing the record set by Tiger Woods at 21.

The achievement "hasn't sunk in and probably won't ever will", the South Korean-born New Zealander told AFP ahead of the US$1.4 million (S$1.9 million) tournament.

But the supremely level-headed Ko shrugged off the high expectations that will inevitably accompany her as the leading women's player.

Ko, who has been in the spotlight since winning her first professional tournament at the age of just 14, a record at the time, said the bar had been set high for some years.

"It's pretty awesome to be number one and I will enjoy every minute of it," she said.

"But there has always been a lot of expectations on my shoulders even when I was an amateur. I just want to go out there and have fun." Back-to-back wins at the Australian Open and New Zealand Open have lifted expectations still higher, but Ko will be against a strong line-up at Sentosa Golf Club.

Nineteen of the top 20 women are in action including Paula Creamer, whose incredible 75-foot (23m) putt secured victory in a play-off last year.

A YouTube clip of the moment has been watched more than one million times - and the 28-year-old pulled off a similar putt in high heels at a promotional event on Tuesday.

The American said: "This is a big week for me and I'm looking forward to the challenge of defending my title." US Women's Open champion Michelle Wie is also among the 63 players battling for the US$210,000 winner's cheque.

But the laid-back Ko, who says she still enjoys hanging out with her friends, going to the beach and watching TV, will not be losing sleep over the tournament.

"I still go to sleep at 9:30pm every night. I love my sleep," she said.