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Lydia Ko to make pro golfing debut

Published: 5:46AM Thursday November 21, 2013 Source: ONE Sport/Fairfax

New Zealand golfer Lydia Ko will make her first venture into the professional golfing ranks this weekend.

The 16-year-old will line up alongside 69 other top golfers in the season-ending Titleholders' Championship in Naples, Florida.

Lydia Ko has been paired with American Michelle Wie, who enjoyed a similar path to success as Ko, turning pro shortly before her 16th birthday in 2005.

So far, Wie has failed to live up to the hype on the LPGA tour, where she has only won two tournaments since 2005.

The duo are well aquainted with one another from their time competing in the amateur ranks.

Wie yesterday tweeted about her excitement at the news of their pairing.

"Excited to play with @Lko424 at her first tournament as a pro! #ifeelold," Wie said.

Ko is also excited ahead of the Florida tournament, having missed last year's event because of exams.

School commitments have interrupted her build-up once again, yet Ko says she squeezed in as much practice as she could.

There will be nerves, Ko said.

"I'm always nervous going into a big tournament, but it's worked out well so far. It's just another tournament and a good opportunity."

Her amateur record was nothing short of remarkable, but backing that up as a professional will be tough.

She's already won four professional tournaments, including her second Canadian Open and the New Zealand Open this year, but this will be different. The air of expectation has risen markedly.

"I know that there will be a lot of expectation on me [as a professional], but I will just try to take it one tournament at a time and hopefully get off to a good start this week in Florida.

"Being the number one amateur in the world for a few years came with some pressure, so that has helped prepare me for my pro career."

For the first time, Ko can afford to look at the prize pool and the US$700,000 (NZ$840,980) winner's cheque would make a handy first pay day.

The world's top 10 female golfers will all play, including current world number five Ko.