Altvater: Lydia Ko impressive in professional debutWritten by Fred Altvater | | BackNine@toledofreepress.com
The LPGA Tour is holding its final event of the 2013 season and Lydia Ko is making her first start as a professional. In 11 starts this year as an amateur on the LPGA, she did not miss a single cut and had six top-10 finishes.
With consecutive wins at the 2012 and 2013 CN Canadian Women’s Open, she is the first amateur to win twice on the LPGA. She has four world-wide wins in professional tournaments and has never missed a cut in 25 starts in professional events.
Ko is only 16 years old and announced her decision to become a professional via a YouTube video. LPGA Tour Commissioner Michael Whan immediately extended her a special exemption and full LPGA Tour membership.
The LPGA does not allow women under the age of 18 to become LPGA Tour members, but does occasionally offer memberships to teenagers that exhibit unusual maturity and talent.
Ko has posted 71-71 over her first two rounds at Tiburon in Naples, Fla. She is T-23 at two-under par and trails the leader Sandra Gal by nine shots.
She was a factor at the Evian Championship in September and finished runner-up, just two shots behind the winner Suzann Pettersen.
Playing as a professional is much different than competing as an amateur. Pressure to perform for sponsors and fans can affect overall attitude.
Those three-foot putts required to make a cut become much more difficult to navigate.
Lydia Ko has an unlimited amount of talent. She has already demonstrated unusual calm and confidence on the golf course.
She will be one of the young players to watch in 2014.