Golf: Swimmer Daniel Hunter drops in to help Lydia Ko celebrate birthday

Kiwi golfer Lydia Ko has struggled with her form on the LPGA Tour recently, but got a nice morale boost this week for her 21st birthday.

As she prepared for the Mediheal Championship in San Francisco, Ko received a visit from No.1 fan and NZ international swimmer Daniel Hunter to help her celebrate.

"A couple of my friends actually surprised me, with the help of my sister," she told the pre-tournament media conference. "She asked them to fly over, and they flew over all the way from New Zealand and Korea. 

"I saw them on the range on Monday. I was, like, 'that's my sister and that looks a lot like Steve and that looks a lot like Daniel, but why are they here? Is it really them?'

"It's nice that you're able to spend some time with the people you love and care about.

"Daniel just competed at the Commonwealth Games not too long ago and I was first introduced to him through Steve, who's my sister's friend and trained me while I was in Korea. It's all a connection - my sister linking me to Steve and Steve linking me to Daniel."

Hunter, 23, finished fifth over 50m butterfly on the Gold Coast and eighth in the 100m freestyle final, breaking the national record with 49.11s in the semi-finals. He studies physiotherapy at AUT University.

As the NZ team assembled to compete earlier this month, Ko posted on Instagram: "All the very best to each and every athlete representing NZ… especially to my good friend @danielhunter11."

The pair met in 2016 and have been mutual fans ever since. Hunter visited Ko at the CME Group Tour Championship in Florida in November that year.

Ko was in Auckland to return the favour at last year's NZ Zonal Championships, before heading to the Australian Open the following week.

"If I wasn't that surprised, I would have cried," Ko beamed at her media conference this week. "Nobody wants to see me crying in the middle of the driving range.

"He's a swimmer, by the way."


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