Lydia Ko may be playing for free no longer.
After finishing alone in second place at the inaugural Evian Championship on Sunday, the 16-year-old New Zealander suggested she will be turning pro in the very near future.
“The next time you seem me, I may be a pro,” she said.
Pressed on the timing, Lydia Ko said she will turn pro by 2014.
In her last two starts, Ko would have earned nearly $600,000 — $300,000 for a successful title defense at the CN Canadian Women’s Open and another $297,994 for her solo second-place finish at the Evian Championship. In total, she has donated $934,987 back to LPGA Tour purses because, as an amateur, she cannot collect tournament earnings.
Ko will fly back home to New Zealand and consult with her team on when to turn pro. To take up LPGA Tour membership, she’ll then have to petition the LPGA Tour and commissioner Mike Whan for an exemption to the tour’s age floor of 18 years. Whan will certainly grant that wish, though membership is not automatic.
When Lexi Thompson won the LPGA Tour’s Navistar LPGA Classic in 2011 at the age of 16, she did not get LPGA Tour membership by virtue of the win. Rather, she had to ask commissioner Whan for that age exemption to take up the two-year exemption that comes with winning an LPGA Tour event.