Lydia Ko bags largest payday in women’s Tour history at LPGA season-ender

"It's been a pretty awesome year and that's all I thought going into last week, and I really can't believe what happened the last 24 hours. It's been a special moment." Those were the words spoken by teenage sensation Lydia Ko following her incredible first full season playing as a professional on the LPGA Tour and scooping it’s biggest ever payday of $1.5million US Dollars.

When that ball left Ko’s club and rolled into the hole for the victory, it was the culmination of a year which has given the New Zealand native reason to believe her decision to make the plunge and ride the turbulent waves of professional golf one of the best career moves any sportsperson could ask for.

Winning the CME Group Tour Championship was a big deal – walking out with $1.5million and the world at your feet is something entirely different. And to think what might have been had the teenager listened to the many voices which spoke out against her wanting to make the leap and leave behind her amateur days. Those same voices are muted now.

The Callaway golfer was on point this past Sunday and shot a 68 in a final round that included hitting 21 out of 22 greens in regulation as well as all 18 fairways. It was an awe-inspiring round which ultimately forced a 3-way playoff contested between Ko, Carlota Ciganda and Julieta Granada – with Ko finding a way to overcome her opponents once again to claim victory on the 4th hole.

That win earned the 17-year-old a whopping $500,000 USD purse on top of her $1 million USD bonus for winning the Race to the CME Globe season-long points competition.

And yet the reason so many admire Ko stems from the fact that, despite her vast fortune and success, she remains as down to earth and humble as she did the first time we saw her step onto a golf course.

“When I saw that $1 million in the box, I was like, ‘Wow, I wonder who the winner of that will be?’ It's amazing. I've never seen that much cash in one place before,” Ko said. “This year has been awesome. Three wins, Rookie of the Year, it's a huge honor for me to be here in this position.”

Should she retain this hot streak in the coming season, there will be few players who could truly oppose her dominance. But then again, once upon a time there were few who would have believed Lydia Ko to be anywhere near the talent she has grown into.

“I'm looking forward to what's coming up next year,” Ko added.

We look forward to it too, and wonder if anyone on the LPGA has the remedy for slowing down this New Zealand hurricane. It promises to be an exciting, tense and memorable 2015.