Lydia Ko didn’t give what little doubters she might have much time to wonder if playing for money would cloud her golf judgment.
The 16-year-old Kiwi teen won the Swinging Skirts World Ladies Masters in Taiwan on Sunday to capture her first win as a professional in just her second start. It’s her fifth win in a professional event and third such win in 2013, having successfully defended her title at the Canadian Women’ s Open on the LPGA Tour in August and taking her national open in February.
Ko carded a final round of 4-under 68 to beat So Yeon Ryu by three shots at 11 under par. Inbee Park was alone in third place, four behind Ko.
“I didn’t know I’d do it this quickly,” Ko said afterward of her first pro. “I’m just so fortunate to do it at such a great tournament. I was nervous, but I just said to myself, `Concentrate on your game.’”
The teen fell three behind Ryu, who shot 73 on Sunday, before turning around to win the tournament and$150,000. The tournament was co-sanctioned by the Taiwanese and Korean LPGA tours.
In November, Ko made her professional debut in the LPGA’s CME Group Titleholders, finishing T-21. She’s expected to play next in the LPGA Tour’s season opener, the Pure Silk Bahamas Classic, which starts Jan. 23.