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17-year-old earns spot on LPGA tour

Cameron Smith
Prep Rally

Jessica Korda is only 17, but she had a heck of a weekend. Not only did the teenager lead at the LPGA's Q-school professional qualifying tournament, she finished in the impressive runners-up position, qualifying for the full LPGA professional tour in the process.

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"It was a tough, tough day because it was really windy, and I lost my balance about 20 times," Korda told the Associated Press. "But this is a dream come true."

"I knew I always wanted to turn pro, but I never thought I'd do it this year. I've had a really good year and I'm so glad I get to finish it out here, turning pro at LPGA Q-school."

A Floridian teen of Czech descent -- her father is legendary Czech tennis star Petr Korda, who actually caddied for her over the summer at the U.S. Women's Amateur -- Korda could be the latest great youth sensation to hit women's professional golf, following on the heels of current women's golf stars Paula Creamer and Morgan Pressel.

Like some of the young phenoms who preceded her, Korda will need a special age exemption from LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan to compete on the full pro slate, but there's been no indication Whan would hesitate to give her that honor to this point.

There's little indication he would have competitive grounds to deny her after Korda's impressive weekend, in which she led entering the final round in Daytona Beach, near the Korda family's home in Melbourne. Korda entered the 120-competitor tournament as an amateur, but her rocket-like rise up the Q-school standings inspired her to take the plunge earlier than she anticipated.

It's far too early to tell if Korda will be able to replicate any of the early success enjoyed by the likes of Creamer and Pressel, but one thing is certain: Her age and famous father will help draw plenty of cameras whenever she's on a professional course.

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