Lydia Ko, a 16-year-old South Korea golfer who already has won twice on the LPGA Tour as an amateur, has been granted Tour membership in a special ruling by Commissioner Michael Whan.
“After reviewing Lydia Ko’s petition, I have granted her LPGA Tour membership beginning at the start of the 2014 season,” Whan announced in a statement released Monday. “This decision ensures that Lydia can attend all of our LPGA rookie development sessions that take place in the early part of the year.”
“As for her exact playing status for the 2014 season, Lydia will compete out of category 7 on the 2014 LPGA Priority List. Category 7 is reserved for players who have won an official LPGA event as a non-member in the previous calendar year. We are looking forward to having Lydia as a full-time member for the 2014 season. It is not often that the LPGA welcomes a rookie who is already a back-to-back LPGA Tour champion.”
Ko, who is currently ranked No. 5 in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings, petitioned the LPGA earlier this month. Ko plans to compete in her first event as a professional at the LPGA’s season-ending CME Group Titleholders in Naples, Fla. on Nov. 21-24.
She earned a spot in the tournament field by winning the 2013 CN Canadian Women’s Open. It was Ko’s second LPGA Tour win as she also won the 2012 CN Canadian Women’s Open to become the youngest winner in LPGA history at 15 years, 4 months, 2 days.
“I am very excited to become a member on the LPGA Tour,” Ko said. “It has always been my dream goal to play on the LPGA, and play against the world’s best players. I know that becoming a member is not only performing well, but to deal with responsibilities very well.
“Women’s golf is growing day by day and I would love to be able to inspire other girls to take up the game, and go for it. I believe this is only the start to my career and I have many new things to learn along the way. I am so grateful to get the opportunity to play with the players I look up to and respect. I can’t wait to start the season early next year.”
LPGA policy states that any female 18 years of age or over shall be eligible to apply for membership in the Association’s Tournament Division; however, females between the ages of 15 and 18 may be granted special permission to apply for membership by petitioning directly to the Commissioner of the LPGA. Decisions on petitions are solely up to the Commissioner’s discretion.