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By The Sports Xchange October 28, 2013 9:57 AM
Amateur star Lydia Ko has been granted her LPGA Tour card for the 2014 season. The 16-year-old New Zealand native is already a two-time winner on the LPGA Tour and is ranked No. 5 in the world. She petitioned the Tour earlier this month to waive its age limit and allow her to gain full membership. "This decision ensures that Lydia can attend all of our LPGA rookie development sessions that take place in the early part of the year," LPGA Tour commissioner Michael Whan said. "We are looking forward to having Lydia as a full-time member for the 2014 season. It is not often that the LPGA welcomes a rookie who is already a back-to-back LPGA Tour champion." Ko has been ranked as high as No. 4 after defending her title at the Canadian Women's Open this year. She has been granted category 7 status for 2014, reserved for players who have won an official LPGA event as a non-member in the previous calendar year. Ko plans to compete in her first event as a professional at the LPGA's season-ending CME Group Titleholders in Naples, Fla. from Nov. 21-24. "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. I am so grateful to get the opportunity to play with the players I look up to and respect. I can't wait to start the season early next year." LPGA policy states females 18 years and older are eligible full full Tour membership. Thos between the ages of 15 and 18 may be granted special permission to apply for membership. Lexi Thompson won an LPGA Tour event at 16 and played in her first tournament as a professional one day before turning 17 last year.