LPGA Tour: Is Lydia Ko a Better Story Than Inbee Park

Fred AltvaterContributor IIAugust 26, 2013

Teenage Amateur Lydia Ko won the CN Canadian Women's Open for the second time.
Teenage Amateur Lydia Ko won the CN Canadian Women's Open for the second time.Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Lydia Ko successfully defended her title at the CN Canadian Women’s Open. She became the youngest woman to ever win on the LPGA Tour by winning this event last year. To repeat and win a second LPGA Tour event is a feat beyond belief.

Inbee Park has six victories this year on the LPGA Tour, including the first three major titles of the year. She was on the verge of becoming the first professional golfer to win a Grand Slam but fell short at the Ricoh Women’s British Open at St. Andrews.

Ko is a 16-year-old amateur golf prodigy from New Zealand, and this is her fourth professional win. She has also won on the Ladies European and the Australian Ladies Professional Golf Tours.

Park, from South Korea, is 25 years old. She joined the LPGA Tour in 2007 and has nine career wins.

It’s not that the golf course fits Ko's eye in Canada. She won the 2012 CN Canadian Women’s Open at the Vancouver Golf Club. This year, her win came at the Royal Mayfair Golf Club in Edmonton, Alberta.

Maybe the cooler Canadian climate reminds her of New Zealand.

The CN Canadian Women’s Open is not a second-tier event. Twenty-three of the 24 Solheim Cup participants were in the field. Asian stars Inbee Park, Na Yeon Choi, Jiyai Shin and Yani Tseng were in the field.

Park shot 67-65 to get near the top of the leaderboard after 36 holes at the CN Canadian Open, but her 74-70 on the weekend moved her down to a tied-for-13th finish, 11 shots behind Ko.

Ko was paired with Suzann Pettersen in the final round Sunday and dusted her by eight shots. Pettersen was the leader of Team Europe at the Solheim Cup last week but shot 72 on Sunday.

Ko is treading where very few have walked. At the tender age of 17, Bobby Jones finished runner-up in the 1919 Canadian Open. At the age of 18, he qualified for his first U.S. Open in 1920. As an amateur, he went on to win 13 major titles, seven of which were against professionals.

Ko has yet to win a major, but she did win the 2012 U.S. Women’s Amateur. In 22 starts in professional events, she has yet to miss a single cut.

The LPGA Tour does not allow membership until the age of 18. Commissioner Michael Whan has given exemptions to exceptional talent in the past. He just granted tour membership to 17-year-old Charley Hull.

Ko will not turn 17 until April 24, 2014. She has been the No. 1 ranked women’s amateur in the world since 2011.

Park’s phenomenal season of winning three consecutive majors in 2013 definitely caught the imagination and attention of golf fans everywhere. It is without question one of the greatest accomplishments of all time in golf.

She is No. 1 on the LPGA Tour money list and No. 1 on the Rolex Rankings. Without question, Park has had a great year.

Ko is a tremendous talent and has proven she can compete against the best players in the world. She has indicated in the past that she would like to go to college.

Students go to a university to learn a vocation that will provide an income. Ko has already received her doctorate in advanced golf studies.

How much longer can her management team allow her to remain an amateur and pass up millions of dollars in corporate endorsements?