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Friday, October 11, 2013

It's Official -- Lydia Ko Is Going Pro

OneSport in New Zealand has confirmed that Lydia Ko intends to turn pro. You can see their video report at this link. But that's just the beginning of the story.

Lydia in full flight

Here are some other articles that give more perspective on the story:
The trick here is that Lydia can turn pro without the LPGA's permission. She's filing for membership, not the right to turn pro. She has already qualified for the Titleholders tournament, so she would get whatever money she wins there. She's also considering a place in Lorena's tournament the week before, so she would get that money also. In fact, she'll be able to accept money in any pro tournament she decides to play.

There is some debate over whether Michael Whan will accept her petition or not. As I understand it, New Zealand requires 13 years of school so accepting her petition might be construed as approving of her dropping out. Given that she's managed to keep up her schoolwork while playing so many tournaments already, I don't think that's likely to be a big influence on his decision.

And while he did turn down Ariya Jutanugarn's petition, it's worthwhile to notice that Ariya didn't have a pro win at the time. Lexi Thompson had 2 wins, one each on the LPGA and LET, and he accepted hers. Since Lydia has 4 pro wins, including two LPGA and one LET, and is also #5 in the Rolex World Rankings, I suspect he'll accept her petition and probably make it valid on her 17th birthday on April 24.

Even if Michael Whan turns down her petition, I still see some logic in Lydia turning pro now. There are many more restrictions on how many LPGA tournaments she can play as an amateur; by turning pro, she'll at least open the doors to Monday qualifying. And given how much it must cost to travel around the world playing golf, and how much money others are making off of her efforts, it simply seems asinine to refuse to get paid!

But no matter what happens at LPGA Headquarters, it seems safe to say that the pros are about to get their pockets picked by a teenager. A lot. And deeply.

The photo came from the golf.com article.

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