Ko pleased her first event as a pro is over


NAPLES, Fla. – Lydia Ko breathed a sigh of relief after putting out for a 2-under-par 70 Sunday at the CME Group Titleholders to finish off her first event as a professional.

At 4-under-par 284, Ko was tied for 21st when she signed her scorecard. If the tournament had been over, the 16-year-old would have taken home roughly $16,000 as her first paycheck.

“I didn’t think about money this week, which is great,” Ko said of her pro debut.

Ko wasn’t overly nervous in her debut, but . . .

“I am pretty happy my first week is gone,” she said. “It’s not a week that comes again, so, yeah, I’m glad that it’s over . . . I’m excited it’s over and excited to begin a new year.”

Ko isn’t going straight back to her New Zealand home after CME. She’s going to Orlando. Ko and her mother are scouting potential places to set up an American base. In two weeks, Ko will make her second professional appearance, this time in Taiwan at the Swinging Skirts Invitational. She has plans to play more than golf there. She said she would like to buy a nice Canon camera with her first paycheck, and she’ll look for one in Taiwan.

After Swinging Skirts, Ko plans to return home to Auckland. Her next pro start will be the LPGA season opener at the Pure Silk Bahamas (Jan. 23-26). She also will attend rookie orientation there. From the Bahamas, Ko flies back to New Zealand, where she plans to defend her title at the ISPS Handa New Zealand Women’s Open (Jan. 31-Feb. 2). After that, she’ll tee it up in the LPGA's second event, the ISPS Handa Australian Women’s Open (Feb. 13-16).

Ko doesn’t have any endorsement deals yet, but she said she would like to have one before the LPGA season opener in the Bahamas. She visited Callaway’s and TaylorMade’s testing facilities in California before coming to Naples this week.

“It would be great to get some things sorted by Bahamas,” she said. “Obviously, I don't have a sponsor right now, and I don't know if that's a good thing or not.”