15-year-old Lydia Ko becomes youngest winner in LPGA history
Lexi Thompson set the teen phenom benchmark last season when she captured the Navistar LPGA Classic at the ripe age of 16 to become the youngest winner in tour history. It was a mark some figured might stand for at least five to 10 years.
But less than a year? Nobody expected someone to come along and eclipse the record that easily.
Well it happened, folks. On Sunday at the CN Canadian Women’s Open, 15-year-old Lydia Ko fired a near-flawless 5-under 67 during the final round to become the youngest winner in tour history.
But before we start comparing Ko to Thompson, there’s something you should know about the 15-year-old: she’s an amateur. After winning the U.S. Women’s Amateur earlier this year to become the top-ranked amateur in the world, Ko decided to retain her amateur status and forego the chance to take home a nice check at the Canadian Women’s Open (she did the same thing at the ISPS Handa Australian Open and U.S. Women’s Open).
Plenty of amateurs tee it up each year in professional events, but most know the odds of winning the tournament are slim-to-none. Playing in a pro event is all about gaining experience and measuring your game against the best in the world. If anything, Ko likely figured there was an outside shot she’d contend. But win the flipping tournament? That was out of the question.
Or so we thought. Ko not only became the youngest winner in tour history, but just the fifth amateur, and the first since JoAnne Carter in 1969, to win an LPGA event. Anytime you break a record and tie another at a tournament, it’s a good week.
But Ko did miss out on something at the Canadian Women’s Open. Unfortunately her amateur status kept her from taking home another prize besides the shiny trophy she received for her stellar performance. That would be the $300,000 winner’s check.
You see, because Ko announced prior to the event that she was playing as an amateur, it meant she had to forego all tournament winnings. What exactly does that mean? It means that Inbee Park, who finished second, ended up receiving a cool $300k for finishing three shots behind Ko.
We know, the rule seems incredibly unfair, but it’s been in place for years and will continue to be there until someone decides otherwise. Sadly, the Canadian Women’s Open has one of the biggest winner’s checks on the LPGA, so Ko missed out on a huge payday.
Considering how much talent she has at 15, you have to think she’ll be cashing a few $300,000 checks in the future as a pro. Still, you can’t help but wonder what she would’ve bought with the six-figure check.
Our guess? A couple thousand Justin Bieber posters and a new iPhone cover for every day of the week. The trophy would’ve been nice, but a bunch of Bieber would’ve been better.