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The LPGA will have a 16-year-old full time pro starting right now

Cameron Smith
Prep Rally

One can accuse the LPGA of plenty of things, but you can't say that they're afraid to shake things up. Bucking longstanding regulations, the Ladies Professional Golf Association waived an age requirement that forces female golfers to be 18 before they turn professional. That has paved the way for New Zealand 16-year-old Lydia Ko to participate in the entire 2014 LPGA tour, continuing the rapid ascent of an athlete who has turned heads while racing to the No. 5 overall ranking in the women's game.

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Lydia Ko is the LPGA's newest full time tour member, at age 16 — Associated Press

Lydia Ko is the LPGA's newest full time tour member, at age 16 — Associated Press

"We are looking forward to having Lydia as a full-time member for the 2014 season," LPGA Tour commissioner Mike Whan told the Associated Press. "It is not often that the LPGA welcomes a rookie who is already a back-to-back champion."

Ko first gained major attention in 2012 when she won the Canadian Open at age 15. She defended the title in February. It was shortly thereafter that Ko asked the LPGA to grant her an exemption that would allow her to compete as a 16-year-old. The professional tour wisely

According to the AP, Ko isn't going to wait very long to get right into top flight action. The Kiwi of South Korean descent is scheduled to compete in the LPGA Titleholders Open in Florida during the final days of November, just weeks after she will be accepted as an official tour member.

For the precocious teenager, the decision to turn pro was a natural one, pushed forward in some part by her desire to inspire the next generation of young girls, just as she once was.

"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," Ko told the Associated Press.

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Cameron Smith is the editor of Prep Rally on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at preprallyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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