Ready for the next hot thing in women’s sports? It’s not Isabelle Beisegel who qualified for the Canadian men’s golf tour, but 14-year-old female golfer Lydia Ko.
Ko has already finished fourth in the New Zealand Open and she was runner-up (by one stroke) in the New South Wales Open. She is also the youngest player to make the cut in a Ladies European Tour event (she did it when she was 12). The New Zealander plans to play in the British Amateur Championship this week before attempting to qualify for the US Amateur Championship in July.
Ko is an amateur so she has been unable to pocked the $50,000 she would have earned in prize money based on her finishes in tournaments this year. Luckily her trips have been funded by the New Zealand Golf trust so far, helping her keep her amateur status. But when she does eventually turn pro, IMG, the sports agency that represents Tiger Woods, Roger Federer, and Michelle Wie, will have interest.
David Rollo, vice-president of IMG’s golf division, told Sunday News in New Zealand that Ko is “definitely on the radar.” Rollo added that he’s “had emails on her from our guys who look after our female athletes and LPGA players in the United States. She’s very young right now but obviously someone who has got a very, very bright future in front of her.”
IMG, nor any other agency, is allowed to formally speak with Ko until she turns professional. Last week in an interview with The New Zealand Herald, Ko’s coach Guy Wilson said he would like her to remain an amateur until 2014 or 2015.
Even though Ko’s game may be advanced and marketers may be eager to sign her up, they’ll have to be patient. And whether or not Ko is the next Michelle Wie remains to be seen. How Lydia does in her upcoming tournaments will let us know how close she is to being able to compete professionally. Until then IMG and the other business giants will have to sit tight and dream of the ways they’ll be able to exploit her.
Photo Credit: Paul Crock, AFP