Lydia Ko's ROY-al Hat Trick
By Torleif Sorenson on 11/24/14

Consider this: Lydia Ko won the CN Canadian Women's Open in 2012 and 2013 — as an amateur golfer. We have become used to this 17-year-old eclipsing various age records and winning things in impressive style.

So we admit that, when Ko won the LPGA's Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year award, we were slightly taken aback. That is, until we remembered that she only turned professional last October and was given her 2015 LPGA Tour card while still underage.

"It is not often that the LPGA welcomes a rookie who is already a back-to-back LPGA Tour champion," LPGA Commissioner Michael Whan said at the time.

But sure enough, on Thursday evening, the number-three-ranked female golfer in the world earned the ROY award — the youngest ever to do, of course. She is also just the eighth winner to score multiple wins in her first season. Just three days after her 17th birthday, Ko defeated two-time major champion Stacy Lewis at the Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic. Three months later in July, she edged 2011 U.S. Women's Open champion So Yeon Ryu by one stroke to capture the Marathon Classic.

It was after she won ROY that she notched her 2014 hat trick; Ko outlasted Spain's Carlota Ciganda and Paraguay's Julieta Granada to win the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship on Sunday at Tiburon GC in Naples, Florida.

Oh, by the way, because she won the CME points race, Ko won a $1 million bonus — not merely the $500,000 winner's check. She has earned the biggest single payday in the history of women's golf.

As 2004 Women's British Open champion Karen Stupples pointed out on Sunday evening, winning just one LPGA tournament is difficult enough. But for Ko to win five times before she's even reached the age of majority — including two Canadian Opens as an amateur — is ridiculous. Ko clearly has the game, the intellect, the maturity, and the humility to succeed where most others rarely will.

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