Still no cash for Lydia Ko despite big win

20:35, Aug 26 2013
Lydia Ko
BACK-TO-BACK: Lydia Ko with the Canadian Open trophy.

Lydia Ko's latest professional golfing win - her fourth - has taken her would-be earnings to nearly NZ$1.5m. 

Ko, still only 16, defended her Canadian Open title yesterday, but again was forced to watch the US$300,000 (NZ$383,926) winner's cheque go to someone else. 

As an amateur, Ko cannot collect prize money and since playing in her first professional tournament as a 12-year-old, has seen NZ$1,457,500 bypass her. 

To put that in perspective, the 50th player on the women's career earnings list, Meena Lee, has been a professional for 11 years and collected NZ$5.27m while the top women earner is Annika Sorenstam with $NZ28.8m.

Ko played in 24 professional tournaments and made the cut in each meaning she's missed out on 24 cheques of various sizes.

She cannot be paid for endorsements either and claims she couldn't care less. 

The two most-asked questions of the talented teen are about how she copes seeing ''her'' earnings go elsewhere and when is she going to turn professional. 

She is funded by High Performance Sport New Zealand and a New Zealand Golf trust fund. 

When Ko does turn professional, she's expected to instantly attract endorsements worth substantially more than the earnings she's missed out on, likely to be in the multi-million dollar range.

When that is remains up in the air and Ko and her coach Guy Wilson yesterday both said the win in Canada was unlikely to affect her plans.

Ko played like an experienced veteran, and at the press conference reminded everyone of her youth.

''I've got some people above me like my mum and dad, they're the boss,'' she said. ''I think, as I'm only 16 still, it's quite hard to make huge decisions. When I turn pro it's like a job. Money is all about it and everything like that. Every shot counts.''

Ko said her parents and New Zealand Golf would be involved in the decision. She then got cheeky when a asked about missing out on the money and whether it bothered her.

''No, not really,'' she said. ''No, I know I'm not going to get the money so I don't care.''

One bemused journalist didn't believe her. 

''You don't care?'' they asked.

''I don't care, I don't care. I can say that a couple more times if you like,'' Ko said.


Fairfax Media