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Lydia Ko goes pro via social media

Published: 12:06PM Wednesday October 23, 2013 Source: ONE Sport

Teenage Kiwi superstar Lydia Ko has taken to social media to announce she's officially turning professional in a zany YouTube video with All Black Israel Dagg.

The 16-year-old posted the video today where she and the All Black fullback play a round of golf together at Gulf Harbour.

Dagg, who is no slouch with a golf club and plays off a 16-handicap, nags Ko throughout the skit, continuously asking when she will turn pro.

On the final hole the teenage sinks a clutch putt and finally surrender to Dagg's commands and simply says "ok I'll do it."

ONE News reported earlier this month that the North Shore teenager would turn professional before the end of the year. Two weeks ago she petitioned the LPGA for an exemption that would allow her onto the tour before she reaches the 18 year old age limit.

Today's announcement makes no mention of endorsements or management deals but it's understood she'll be part of a smartphone launch tomorrow and play her first professional event in Florida on November 21.

Ko has won four professional events as an amateur including two Canadian Open titles, the NSW Open and the NZ Women's Open. She also finished runner-up at the final major of the year, the Evian Championship in France, just two shots off the pace.

At 14 she became the youngest ever winner of a professional tour event when she claimed the NSW Open and her 2012 win at the Canadian Open made her the youngest winner of an LPGA event.

Now ranked number five in the world golf rankings, Ko has turned down over $1.2 million in prize money due to her amateur status but from today she can now receive that prize money and also take on endorsement deals as a golfer.

"This is a very momentous day for Lydia and we are so thrilled that she has chosen such a unique and entertaining way to share her news with her fans today," New Zealand Golf Chief Executive Dean Murphy said.

Murphy said they had scheduled Ko and her good friend and Dagg to get together for a game of golf to promote the upcoming LOVE Golf Membership campaign and the idea evolved from there.

"We are rolling out a new membership campaign over summer to promote involvement in our great game and lets just say the storyline changed somewhat in the last few days," he said.

"Being the special person that Lydia is, she was reluctant to hold a traditional press conference. She didn't want to make a big fuss about news that had already been reported in the media in recent weeks.

"She has also been very busy studying for exams and wanted to make this announcement in a different way.

Murphy said that Ko's amateur career was exceptional and she has been an outstanding ambassador for New Zealand Golf.

"She has been phenomenal," he said. "Her amateur record ranks right up there among the greats of the game. She has won four professional titles, claimed the US and Australian Amateur titles, climbed to world number four on the world wankings and has been the world number on amateur for more than two years without ever losing that title. That is a record that is unlikely to be matched by a 16-year-old ever again."

"Lydia is an exceptional talent and we wish her every success in her professional career. We look forward to welcoming her home to defend her title at the New Zealand Womens Open as a professional."