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SBD Global/October 29, 2013/Leagues and Governing Bodies

LPGA Grants 16-Year-Old Lydia Ko Full-Time Membership For 2014

The LPGA Tour said on Monday that New Zealand's 16-year-old "golfing prodigy Lydia Ko has been granted full membership to the LPGA Tour" from the start of the '14 season after the "governing body waived the age limit clause," according to Sudipto Ganguly of REUTERS. Ko's mother, Tina, "had confirmed earlier this month that her daughter had asked the LPGA for an exemption." Ko "formally announced her decision to turn pro last week via social media." The LPGA Tour has an "18-year-old age requirement for membership but commissioner Mike Whan said they have made an exception for Ko" (REUTERS, 10/28). USA TODAY's Steve DiMeglio reported Ko currently is ranked No. 5 in the world and plans to "compete in her first event as a professional" at the LPGA's season-ending CME Group Titleholders in Naples, Fla., on Nov. 21-24. She earned a spot in the tournament field by "winning the 2013 CN Canadian Women's Open, her second win on the LPGA tour" (USA TODAY, 10/28). GOLF CHANNEL's Ryan Lavner noted Lexi Thompson was 16 when she won the Navistar Classic in '11, and then "successfully petitioned the tour so she could claim the tour exemption that came with the victory" (GOLF CHANNEL, 10/28). Golf Channel's Damon Hack said, "This is a player who is so special, who seems so mature beyond her years. I voice concerns about having a teenager granted special membership, but she’s a special player. This is a rare bird we’re seeing" ("Morning Drive," Golf Channel, 10/28). GOLF WEEK's Beth Ann Baldry wrote under the header, "LPGA Makes Right Call In Granting Ko Membership." LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan "made the right call" in granting Ko membership (GOLF WEEK, 10/28).
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