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Teen queens of women's golf set to duel

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 6/07/2016
Brooke Henderson, of Canada, left, embraces Lydia Ko, of New Zealand, after Henderson won on the 18th green in a playoff hole in the Women's PGA Championship golf tournament. © AP Photo/Elaine Thompson Brooke Henderson, of Canada, left, embraces Lydia Ko, of New Zealand, after Henderson won on the 18th green in a playoff hole in the Women's PGA Championship golf tournament.

The teenagers at the top of women's golf, Lydia Ko and Brooke Henderson, form a mutual admiration society and a burgeoning rivalry that will feature at the US Women's Open.

World No.1 Ko of New Zealand and second-ranked Canadian Henderson, one year younger at 18, have won the year's first two majors and tee off together in the first round of the Open at CordeValle in San Martin, California.

The Korean-born Ko won the Ana Inspiration in March and Henderson claimed her first major last month at the Women's PGA Championship.

Henderson followed up her major triumph by repeating as Portland Classic champion last week. Ko won the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship in her last tour start.

"Lydia Ko is amazing," Henderson told reporters when asked about the tour's youth movement.

"She's an inspiration to all of us girls out here, and I think everyone in the world.

"She's done amazing things in her career and she's only a couple months older than I am. So I think everybody looks up to her and thinks she's an inspiration. And we're just trying to kind of chase after her."

Ko, who won the 2012 Canadian Women's Open LPGA event at age 15 and last year at 17 became the youngest player ever to ascend to golf's world number one, is a fan of Henderson.

"To me, she's a really great player," Ko said about Henderson, a one-time aspiring ice hockey goalie.

"She's an aggressive player, but at the same time she's smart. And I think she's one of the most confident putters out there, too."

Ko and Henderson are grouped with American world number four Lexi Thompson, a stately 21 years of age, representing the top rated players in the field at the year's third major in the absence of South Korean Park In-bee.

World number three Park, the 2008 US Open champion, is out due to a persistent left thumb injury.

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