It was only a matter of time for this wunderkind from New Zealand. 16-year-old Lydia Ko will compete as a professional at next month’s LPGA’s CME Group Titleholders, according to GolfChannel.com’s Randall Mell.
Ko’s mother, Tina Hyon, told GolfChannel.com Wednesday that Lydia, 16, will make the trip to Naples, Fla., for the tour’s season-ending event, and she’s also considering a possible spot in the Lorena Ochoa Invitational in Mexico, the week before the CME Group Titleholders.
“If she plays any pro events now, she will play as a pro,” Hyon wrote GolfChannel.com in an email.
There’s one obstacle that Ko needs to cross. The LPGA requires its members to be at least 18 years old, but, of course, past teen stars have filed petitions for a waiver and several have been granted, while more have been denied.
Ko’s family has officially filed a petition with the LPGA.
Last year at the CN Canadian Women’s Open, Ko, who was 15 at the time, became the youngest-ever winner of an LPGA event. She defended her title — at a different course, no less — successfully in August.
As a non-member winner of a tour event, Ko is entitled to claim tour membership. She could seek to claim immediate membership for the rest of 2013 and through 2014. Or, she could defer membership to next year. However, Ko can’t do either without first obtaining a waiver of the tour’s age restriction. LPGA commissioner Mike Whan holds the power to grant or deny such petitions.
Ko turns 17 next April 24. Playing as an amateur this year, she gave up just under a million in prize money.
After she finished runner-up to Suzann Pettersen at the Evian Masters last month, Ko insinuated she would forgo her amateur status and turn pro — which has been a topic of debate in the golf world.
“The next time you see me I may be a pro,” said Ko.
According to one report, she’s worth potentially $6 million from the get-go.
What do you think of Ko’s decision? Finally? Or “golf will always be there”? Well, that’s somewhat true, but when there are millions on the line, sometimes you need to capitalize when — pardon the pun — the iron is hot.