Ko 'super excited' about pro debut, and playing for money

Mon Oct 28, 2013 7:56pm EDT
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(Reuters) - New Zealand's 16-year-old prodigy Lydia Ko is "super excited" about making her professional debut next month in Florida, and expects the novel experience of competing for money to be on her mind for at least her first few events.

Ko was given the green light on Monday to become a full member of the LPGA Tour from the start of the 2014 season after the governing body waived the 18-year-old age limit clause.

Already the winner of four professional titles, the bespectacled Ko will tee it up in the paid ranks for the first time in the LPGA Tour's season-ending CME Group Titleholders in Naples, Florida from Nov 21-24.

"I'm super, super excited," Ko said on a teleconference call on Monday about her looming professional debut. "I really wanted to play (the season ender) last year, but I couldn't because of exams.

"I was lucky enough to finish (exams) early (this year) so that I can go and play. And I've never been to Florida, so that will be a whole new destination, as well."

She will also enter foreign territory as she finally begins to embrace the idea of competing on the LPGA Tour for money.

"Definitely it will be on my mind for the first couple of tournaments,' Ko said of the chance to earn prize money. "When I was an amateur playing the professional women's tournaments, it didn't mean much about me going up and down score-wise.

"Now it's pretty much a thousand dollars on the line. I've just got to learn to not think about that, just enjoy myself and know it's a great opportunity. Just got to have fun with all the experience I'll be able to learn."

Ko, who was born in South Korea and moved to New Zealand when she was six, became the youngest winner on the LPGA Tour when she captured last year's Canadian Open at the age of 15.   Continued...

Fifteen-year old Lydia Ko of New Zealand tees off on the 12th hole during the third round of the Kraft Nabisco Championship LPGA golf tournament in Rancho Mirage, California, April 6, 2013. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok