DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- The LPGA Tour waived its age requirement Monday for Lydia Ko, clearing the way for the 16-year-old from New Zealand to join the tour in 2014.
Ko won't be like most LPGA Tour rookies.
She already is a two-time champion, having won the Women's Canadian Open at age 15 last year to become the youngest winner in LPGA Tour history.
She successfully defended her title this past summer in Canada. Born in South Korea and raised in New Zealand, she already is No. 5 in the women's world ranking.
Ko contended in the Evian Championship in France in September and a short time later asked the LPGA Tour to waive its requirement that players be 18 or older to join.
"We are looking forward to having Lydia as a full-time member for the 2014 season," LPGA Tour commissioner Mike Whan said. "It is not often that the LPGA welcomes a rookie who is already a back-to-back champion."
Ko plans to play the LPGA Titleholders in Naples, Fla., at the end of November.
By granting her petition now, Whan said the teenager will be able to take part in rookie-development sessions early next year before the season gets underway.
"It has always been my dream goal to play on the LPGA and play against the world's best players," Ko said. "I know that becoming a member is not only performing well, but to deal with responsibilities very well. Women's golf is growing day by day, and I would love to be able to inspire other girls to take up the game, and go for it. I believe this is only the start to my career, and I have many new things to learn along the way."