SINGAPORE - New Zealand's record-breaking teen Lydia Ko vowed to avoid the mistakes of her "idol" Michelle Wie as she plots her path to professional golf -- and targets a medal at the 2016 Olympics.

Ko is tipped by her handlers as a future world number one after she became the youngest amateur, male or female, to win a professional event aged 14 years and 280 days in January, breaking the mark of Japan's Ryo Ishikawa. But Ko, who turned 15 on Tuesday at the Queen Sirikit Cup in Singapore, said unlike Wie she was in no rush to turn pro, and wouldn't try to juggle full-time golf with her studies. She was also cautious about competing in men's events.

"She (Wie) became pro really early and she decided to do school work at the same time, which is two hard things to do," Ko, already the world's top amateur, said in an interview at Tanah Merah Country Club. "She also played a few men's tournaments on the men's tees as well. So she went a bit of a different direction to what I want to do, although she is my idol."

America's Wie, swept along by a wave of hype and endorsements, turned professional aged 15 in 2009 but has won only two tournaments since, and none for nearly two years. The glamorous Wie, who like Ko is of South Korean background, has also flopped in her much-publicised attempts to take on the men in professional tournaments.

But Ko, while praising Wie, said she plans to turn pro in about two years on the US LPGA Tour and also wants to attend college in America, where students can leave for periods to concentrate on their sporting careers. "I think doing school work and playing as a pro is going to be way too hard," she said. "I think she's amazing but I don't exactly want to go the way she did." Team captain Libby Steele, New Zealand Golf's performance manager, also said level-headed Ko's career was shaping up very differently from Wie's. "Michelle Wie turned professional very young. It's very difficult for someone outside the US system to do that," Steele told AFP. "I don't think Lydia has aims to do that because the negatives of that are pressures on a very young brain. She certainly aspires to be like those people, but she doesn't necessarily copy how they got there, and nor does her coach." Ko is following in the footsteps of current world number one Yani Tseng, Karrie Webb and Pak Se-Ri, who all represented their countries at the Queen Sirikit Cup amateur event involving teams from the Asia-Pacific region.

She said she was now coming to terms with the extra media attention after January's win at the Women's NSW Open in Sydney propelled her into the history books.

Thanks to her exploits, bespectacled Ko already has a professional ranking of 159, and will play about half-a-dozen pro events in the coming months along with this year's top amateur tournaments.

Ko's interest in golf started at five, when she was given a putter and a seven-iron by an aunt. Four years later, aged just nine, she played the New Zealand amateur championship, and she won her first national title aged 11. At 12, Ko finished tied seventh in the New Zealand Women's Open, five shots behind winner Laura Davies. Last year, she missed victory at the NSW Open by a single stroke and became the youngest ever world number one amateur.

Ko now trains up to 50 hours a week in the school holidays, from sunrise to sunset, cutting down to 30-40 hours during term-time as she targets not only a professional career, but a place on New Zealand's Olympic team. "One of my goals is to play the Olympics in 2016. If you're able to represent your country in the Olympics everyone will understand you as a player and not many people do get to go to the Olympics," she said.

"I think everyone will be happy at home if I win a medal. Everyone will be off their chairs. But it's going to be hard to get a medal, there's quite a few players and the top players in the world." Ko said she was unaware of China's Guan Tianlang, who became the youngest player in a European Tour event, aged 13 years and 177 days, at last week's Volvo China Open.

And she said while her parents, who moved from South Korea to New Zealand when she was very young, had given her unstinting support, they had never pushed her to take up golf as a career. According to Steele, Ko's determination and mental toughness mark her out as a future star, although her development will take careful nurturing. "I certainly think that Lydia has the ability to be world number one," said Steele.

"She will go a long way. She's got an incredible work ethic, which is huge. It makes a big difference. But she's also got an incredible mental ability to dig deep and to make great decisions. She's very calm, she never panics. She can find herself in a situation where other players would roll their eyes and go, 'this is hopeless'. And Lydia will find a way to get a good score out of it."