Lydia Ko, one of the great amateurs in golf history, would like turn pro next month and play in the LPGA's 2013 season finale, the CME Group Titleholders in Naples, Fla, for money. Ko's mother told Golf Channel that her daughter wants to be eligible to cash a check at the next event she plays in on the pro circuit, and that's expected to be at the end of November in Naples.
Given her success playing pro events as a 14-to-16 year old, it was only a matter time before she turned pro and stopped passing on all the cash she could have earned so far. As an amateur, she's already No. 5 in the world rankings
There are plenty of cautionary tales when it comes to the hype surrounding teenage phenoms, but given Ko's track record so far, she appears to be the real deal and likely the next great ladies champion. At just 16 years old, she already has four professional wins, including two on the LPGA -- back-to-back Canadian Woman's Open titles.
Ko also is coming off a second place finish at the Evian Masters, the newly anointed "fifth major" in women's golf. The victories, as well as all the contentions at pro events like at Evian, have resulted in her, under amateur rules, leaving more than $1 million on the table in cash winnings.
The usual age concerns just don't apply to Ko, as she's already proven she can compete on the biggest circuit and in the biggest events. Before she becomes a full-time pro, however, the LPGA must grant her petition to become a professional at the age of 16. LPGA rules currently require its members to be at least 18 years old. The LPGA has not commented on the petition yet:
LPGA acknowledges Lydia Ko's petition for waiver of tour age restriction received but not commenting further while it's reviewed.— Randall Mell (@RandallMellGC) October 10, 2013
Given her talent, competitiveness and success on tour already, and her international starpower, granting the waiver should be a no-brainer.