For Lydia Ko, money can wait

Lydia Ko
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Lydia Ko said she was shocked when she realized how much money she could have pocketed last year, but says she still doesn't know when she'll turn pro.

Series: Golf Buzz

Published: Sunday, January 27, 2013 | 5:58 p.m.

Is Lydia Ko a has-been at age 15?

She won the 2012 edition of Australia's New South Wales Open at this time last year to kick off what became an unprecedented run of success for a 14-year-old female golfer – her victory there made her the youngest player, male or female, to win a professional tour event. She went on to become the leading amateur at the U.S. Women's Open, won the U.S. Women's Amateur and then won the CN Women's Canadian Open to become the youngest LPGA Tour winner.

She returned this week to defend her New South Wales Open title, but finished all the way down in second place, two shots behind winner Caroline Hedwall of Sweden, another fast-rising young star. (Ko also finished second two years ago, at 13).

I'm kidding about the has-been part. The real news of her title defense in Sydney is that, after having several months of an offseason to ponder her future, Ko still insists that she won't turn pro for the foreseeable future.

"There's no point in me going in there when I don't think I'm ready and I'm not that confident," she said at the tournament. "I think there will be a point in time where I think it's the right time.
"That doesn't mean I'm going to wait many many years," she stressed. "A certain time will come suddenly without me noticing."

She admitted that she was shocked when she looked back at what she had accomplished – and the amount of money she could have collected had she been played as a pro last year.

"When I went to prize givings and people say what I have done for that year, it was like, 'Oh my God, I actually did that?'" she said. "I didn't know how much it was until the media said 'you could have got $300,000 at the Canadian Open.' That could have been a nice house."

Money isn't the only thing she's missing out on. As the New South Wales Open's defending champion, she was given the best spot in the players' parking lot. Alas, at age 15, she doesn't yet have her driver's license.