Should two-time CN Canadian Women's Open champion Lydia Ko return to defend her title next year it will be a professional.
Golf Channel's Randall Mell reports the all-golf network has received an email from Ko's mother, Tina Hyon, which says the 16-year-old plans to compete at the LPGA's season-ending Titleholders tournament next month as a professional.
“If she plays any pro events now, she will play as a pro,” Hyon is quoted as saying in the email.
Ko, who has been the number one ranked amateur player in the world for the last three years and as high as fourth among pros, has also asked the LPGA Tour to waive it's 18-year-old age restriction so that she can play on Tour. Ko will turn 17 next April.
The LPGA confirmed it has received Ko's petition but would not comment further while the review process is underway.
As a winner of the CN Canadian Women's Open, Ko has the right to take up Tour membership for the rest of this year or she could defer her membership to 2014. However, she needs to get the age restriction waiver from commissioner Mike Whan before doing so.
The last player to be granted a waiver was Lexi Thompson, who petitioned the LPGA for membership after winning in 2011 at the age of 16. She was given membership, provided she deferred it to the 2012 season.
The question and pressure for Ko to turn pro has increased exponentially this year following her Canadian Open win in Edmonton and a runner-up finish at the Evian Championship, the first year it was a major on the LPGA Tour. As an amateur, Ko is ineligible to collect the winnings from any pro tournament. In 14 career LPGA tournaments, it's estimated Ko has relinquished almost $1-million in prize money including $600,000 from her two Canadian Open wins.
It was at the Evian Championship that Ko gave the strongest indication yet about her future plans.
"The next time you see me I may be a pro," she was quoted as saying before adding this caveat. "I got to get my mom's permission to say anything else."