So now that Lydia Ko will be playing for money, does the pressure ratchet up?
Ko was asked just that in her conference call with world media Monday after the LPGA announced the 16-year-old phenom from New Zealand would be granted a waiver of the LPGA’s rule requiring members be at least 18.
“When I was an amateur, playing the professional women's tournaments, it didn't mean much going up and down, score-wise, and now it's pretty much a thousand dollars on the line,” Ko said. “But, yeah, I've just got to learn to not think about that and just enjoy myself and know it's a great opportunity. Yeah, just got to enjoy myself and have fun with all the experience.”
Ko will make her professional debut Nov. 21-24 at the CME Group Titleholders in Naples, Fla. She left roughly $934,000 on the table playing as an amateur in 11 LPGA events this year. That would rank her ninth on the LPGA money list.
Her swing coach, Guy Wilson, believes she will make a swift transition to the pro ranks.
“I don’t think it will be an issue at all,” Wilson told GolfChannel.com in a telephone interview. “The only thing, she’s just got to be managed properly, so she’s not overcommitted and can do what she does now.”
Ko said she wouldn't be sure what her schedule would look like as an LPGA rookie next year until the tour releases its schedule. The schedule should open up favorably for Ko and all her fans. While the LPGA announced next season will begin in the Bahamas with the Pure Silk Classic, the tour is expected to move shortly after to its early Australian/Asian swing. Ko will have chances to make early starts at the New Zealand Women’s Open, a Ladies European Tour event in her homeland, and then the Australian Women's Open, a co-sanctioned LPGA and LET event. The LPGA then makes a swing through Asia.