Lydia Ko, the teen prodigy who is No. 4 in the world among women golfers, followed up her first victory as a professional by signing a contract with Tiger Woods’ (among many others) former representative, IMG Worldwide.
The 16-year-old Ko, who had two LPGA triumphs before she turned professional in October and joined the tour, won last week’s Swinging Skirts World Ladies Masters, an official event so-sanctioned by the Taiwan LPGA and Korea Ladies Professional Golf Tour.
The best female amateur in the world for more than two years, Ko became the youngest golfer to win an LPGA tournament when, at 15 years and four months, she conquered the field at the 2012 Canadian Women’s Open. She made more history when, by defending her title this year, she became the first amateur to win two tour contests.
Ko, who captured the Swinging Skirts victory in Taiwan in only her second start as a pro, expressed surprise at how quickly she entered the winner’s circle after giving up her amateur status. She did so after rebounding from a three-shot deficit halfway through the Swinging Skirts finale to earn a three-shot win over So Yeon Ryu and the $150,000 first-place prize.
"I'm really surprised," Ko told New Zealand 3News after carding a final-round 4-under 68 to get to 11-under for the week at Miramar Golf and Country Club in Taipei. "I didn't really have this coming. I think playing in the [LPGA’s season-ending CME Group Titleholders] two weeks ago definitely helped me with all the nerves."
Ko, with four professional worldwide Ws on her resume (in addition to two wins in Canada, Ko captured the 2012 Women’s New South Wales Open and 2013 ISPA Handa Women’s New Zealand Open), joins a team of golfers at IMG. While Woods left the firm with Mark Steinberg in 2011, IMG manages several LPGA and PGA players, including reigning PGA champion Jason Dufner, 2012 British open winner Ernie Els, former women’s No. 1 Yani Tseng, Paula Creamer, and Michelle Wie.
"IMG emerged as the clear choice to represent me," Ko, who was born in South Korea and raised in New Zealand, said in a statement, "in large part because of their global reach."
IMG did not disclose details of the deal.