LPGA.com counts down to the end of 2013 with the LPGA Tour's 13 top stories of the year. Join us as we look back at the year's most memorable milestones. Read about Lydia Ko shining in Canada and joining the LPGA in Story No. 2.
Ko Shines in Canada Again, Joins LPGA
How does she do it? This past year, golf fans everywhere have been shaking their heads in disbelief and learning to stop doubting that teenage sensation Lydia Ko could achieve anything on the golf course that she set her mind to. The phenom from New Zealand stole the hearts of LPGA followers worldwide in 2012 when she became the youngest player in history to win an official LPGA event at the ripe age of 15 years and four months. With spectacular playing performances, comes high expectations and Ko shattered them all in 2013.
Her 2013 campaign was one that many players would dream of and Ko happened to still be an amateur. She would get peppered with questions at every event about when she would turn pro and graciously let her play do most of the talking. The loudest of performances came in Edmonton where she defended her title at the CN Canadian Women’s Open. Up against one of the strongest fields on Tour, Ko cruised to a five-shot victory over Karine Icher with rounds of 65-69-67-64.
Title defenses on the LPGA Tour have been no easy task as of late and Ko was the first player since Yani Tseng at the 2010 and 2011 RICOH Women’s British Open to win back-to-back titles. Her five-shot win also tied Suzann Pettersen for the largest margin of victory on Tour in 2013.
Ko’s win in Canada was just one of many highlights in 2013. In 12 starts, the teen posted six additional top-10 finishes and never missed a cut. It was her runner-up finish to Suzann Pettersen at The Evian Championship, the Tour’s fifth major, which helped solidify her decision to turn professional. Ko would petition the LPGA in October to waive the age restriction for her to become a member and was granted Tour membership by Commissioner Mike Whan for the 2014 season.
“I was just super excited to hear the word, ‘Yes,’” said Ko. “I was really excited and I didn't know really what to think. I had kind of a mental breakdown but in a good way.”
Ko made her professional debut at the LPGA Tour’s season-ending CME Group Titleholders where she tied for 21st. A month later in just her second event as a pro, she won the Swinging Skirts World Ladies Masters (co-sanctioned by the KLPGA and JLPGA) in Taiwan against a field that included four of the top-seven ranked players in the world. As of the December 16th Rolex Rankings, Ko was ranked No. 4 in the world, trailing only Inbee Park, Suzann Pettersen and Stacy Lewis.
She has yet to play an event as an LPGA Tour member, but Ko has her mind set on leaving a legacy like the legends that came before her, both on and off the course.
“I want to be remembered like Annika or Lorena, they did so much for the LPGA, for the women's game,” said Ko. “They were such great players, that's just going out there and kind of being ambitious. One of the big things is I want to be known quite well to the spectators for being very nice and very friendly. I obviously want to be the world best golfer in the future, but just I think personality wise is actually quite important to me.”