Kiwi star Lydia Ko signs with IMG Worldwide

11:50, Dec 13 2013
Lydia Ko
SWEET SUCCESS: New Zealand's Lydia Ko kisses her trophy Swinging Skirts World Ladies Masters tournament in Taiwan. She also pocketed $180,000.

Rising Kiwi golf star Lydia Ko has signed a management and marketing contract with sporting giants IMG Worldwide.

The 16-year-old, who is currently ranked fourth in the women's world rankings, is flying high after winning last week's Swinging Skirts World Ladies Masters in Taiwan, in just her second tournament as a professional.

The 2012 US Women's Amateur Championship winner, Ko, at just 15, became the youngest winner in LPGA history when she claimed the 2012 Canadian Women's Open at age 15.

She won the tournament again this year, becoming the first player to win two LPGA events as an amateur, and now has five professional tournament wins during the past two years, from a limited playing schedule as she juggled professional and amateur tournaments, and schoolwork.

IMG represents fellow women's golfers Michelle Wie, Jessica Korda, Beatriz Recari and Jaye Marie Green.

Fairfax Media reported last month that the management giants were in discussions with Ko and it seemed inevitable that a deal would be struck between the two.

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''I am excited to work with my new team at IMG as I embark on my professional career," Ko said.

''My family and I spoke with many candidates and IMG emerged as the clear choice to represent me, in large part because of their global reach.

''I am comfortable knowing that IMG will commit the appropriate resources to help my career excel while I focus on golf.''

Ko was the top-ranked female amateur in the world for more than three years - since she was 13 - prior to turning pro in October.

She got an exemption to join the LPGA Tour after petitioning the commissioner, with rules dictating that a player has to be 18 years old to join.

The Kiwi will defend her New Zealand Women's Open title in Christchurch late next month.

Fairfax Media