You didn’t notice it over the weekend, in all likelihood, because you were watching a riveting British Open. But Lydia Ko won on the LPGA Tour again.
That’s 14 wins for Ko, who is just 19 years old. This win came in the Marathon Classic in Toledo, Ohio, where Ko had to survive a four-hole playoff for the victory. The win adds to the legend that Ko is already becoming.
Ko is becoming so successful at such a young age that you have to start looking at her in terms of the all-time greats of the game, even though Ko has yet to see her 20th birthday. A realistic question is whether Ko can qualify for the LPGA Hall of Fame by reaching the required 27 points before she turns 21.
Consider that Ko has 14 wins, two of which are majors. That 16 points on the way to 27, and Ko also gets a point for being the LPGA Player of the Year in 2015. So at 19 years old, Ko already has 17 points.
The New Zealand player is also leading in the Player of the Year and the Vare Scoring race this year, and if she can hold on, that would be two more points. And that’s not counting any more wins she might get this year.
Comparisons to the careers of other players are always a little unfair, but let’s think about where Ko compares to one of women’s golf’s best players, Annika Sorenstam. Where the comparisons are unfair start right at the top, since Sorenstam didn’t win her first tournament on the LPGA until she was 24, after two years at the University of Arizona, one year on the Ladies European Tour and a 1994 season on the LPGA Tour that produced a rookie of the year award but no wins.
For Sorenstam, third all time on the LPGA career wins list with 72, the 14th win didn’t come until 1998, when she was 27 years old. Oddly, both Sorenstam and Ko had two major victories in their first 14 victories.
And Sorenstam would pick up steam in the years after she was 27. In the year she turned 31, Sorenstam won eight times, and in the year she turned 32 she won 11 LPGA events. So that’s 19 events in just two years, more than the young Ko has in her entire career so far.
Still, Ko is clearly on her way to the Hall of Fame and a large number of victories in her career, even if she retires at 30 as she has hinted. She may never catch Sorenstam’s 72 career wins, but she is sure to join Sorenstam in the Hall of Fame, perhaps sooner than later.