Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - LPGA Tour commissioner Michael Whan
received Lydia Ko's application for early admission to the tour some time ago.
His decision wasn't expected to come as early as it did, but the decision was
an easy one, and the correct one.
Ko, who turned pro last week in a cheeky YouTube video (
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zeKlla_Tn5E), was granted full
status on the LPGA Tour starting in 2014. She won't turn 17 until next April,
and needed to petition the commissioner because LPGA rules state a player must
be 18 years old to join the tour.
Players may petition the commissioner any time after they turn 15. Ko chose to
do so, and became the first player since Lexi Thompson to be granted tour
membership prior to her 18th birthday.
Thompson was originally denied the exemption by Whan, but he changed the rules
allowing her to Monday-qualify for events. That gave Thompson the chance to
play more than 12 events in 2011.
Thompson not only won an LPGA Tour event that year, she also won on the Ladies
European Tour (LET). With both of those wins, she was the youngest
professional winner in tour history.
A few months later, Ko broke Thompson's record. Ko won the Bing Lee/Samsung
Women's NSW Open at the age of 14.
Ko, who is of Korean decent, but resides in New Zealand, was the youngest
winner of a professional tournament at the time, but that mark has since been
taken by Brooke Henderson, who at 13, won on the Canadian Women's Tour.
Ko also has won the New Zealand Women's Open as well as the last two Canadian
Women's Opens. The second of which will give her membership to the LPGA Tour
The teenager has won four pro events, spread over three different tours.
Was there any chance Whan was going to deny her? We may never know, because
other than announcing he has accepted Ko's request, Whan states that each
petition is a private matter between the commissioner and the player.
Frankly, Whan would have looked silly if he denied this request. If that
happened, Ko would have made a similar request to the LET, and that tour may
have accepted said request.
That would have reflected poorly on Whan if that information had become public
knowledge, but he wasn't going to let that happen.
When a player like Ko has risen as high as fourth in the women's world
rankings requests to join your tour, you say yes.
Ko's only issues will be traveling from New Zealand and completing her school
work. She said in a conference call Monday that she expects her mother will
travel with her for the near future.
Her family will not relocate just yet. Once her endorsement paychecks start
rolling in, that could change things. Ko has yet to decide on what management
company she will sign with, and also will continue to play the clubs that are
currently in her bag.
"I'm not really sure. I guess it will be different to get money after a week's
worth of golf. But I haven't really thought about it," Ko said when asked what
she'll do with her first paycheck.
Ko was nonplussed about the decision and the added attention. She seems more
worried about her school work.
"We have two papers for English language, and I've got one on Friday. I'm
really nervous about the one coming up. It's on commentary stuff. Yeah, I'm
really nervous," Ko admitted. "And next week I've got my photography exam. I'm
super excited for that. It's about being creative. You can't really go wrong.
But something like English or math you can definitely go wrong."
For the near future, Ko's biggest worries will be conjugating verbs. She'll
worry about adding up her birdies and eagles in a few weeks at her first
professional event, the CME Group Titleholders.
MOORE EARNS ANOTHER WIN
For the second straight October, Ryan Moore has won a PGA Tour event. As I
asked in my column after last year's win (http://tinyurl.com/ktj9pka), will
this be the springboard he is looking for?
The 2013-14 PGA Tour season will be Moore's ninth full season on the PGA Tour
and he has yet to play his way on to a Ryder Cup or Presidents Cup team.
The victory over the weekend in Malaysia was his third on tour. With the PGA
Tour starting its first-ever wrap-around schedule, Moore has played two of
the first three events and posted a pair of top-10 finishes.
The 31-year-old has broken par in seven of his eight rounds and was in the 60s
for six of the eight. Moore, clearly, is at the top of his game late in the
The same could have been said at the end of the 2012 season, when 18 of his
final 24 rounds were under par.
Can Moore carry that into this week's World Golf Championship event? The field
at that event will have 15 of the top 25 players from the latest world
rankings, so the field will be much stronger than the fields were at his last
two winning events.
Moore stellar amateur match play record can do nothing but help the U.S. team
at next fall's Ryder Cup.
Now, it is up to Moore to earn his way onto that squad.
* Earlier this year when Inbee Park won the first three majors on the LPGA
Tour, it seemed as though she had wrapped up Player of the Year honors before
June was over. As Lee Corso says, "Not so fast." Suzann Pettersen picked up
her fourth win, and 10th top-three finish of the year, last weekend. Park
leads Pettersen by 38 points in the Player of the Year race with three events
* Fans complain about the FedExCup and its points system, but few pay
attention to the Charles Schwab Cup race on the Champions Tour. That race
comes to a conclusion this week at the season-ending Charles Schwab Cup
Championship. Two, count 'em, TWO players can win the season-long prize. Maybe
if the points were reset like the FedExCup, things would be a little
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