Lydia Ko Opens Up On What It Takes to Become an LPGA Hall of Famer and She Is at the Doorstep At 25
Over the weekend Lydia Ko made history: Her $2 million winner’s check at the CME Tour Championship was the largest ever in women’s golf. Ko also secured the Rolex Player of the Year Award and the Vare Trophy for low season-long scoring average for the second consecutive year, capping off a glorious 2022 competitive performance.
She barely missed out on one more enormous feat: breaking the money record for a single season on the LPGA. The New Zealand pro came up just shy of Lorena Ochoa’s 2007 all-time record of $4,364,994. The difference was only $591— or in other words, the approximate cost to purchase Ko’s Titleist TSR3 driver.
Ko may have secured two of women’s golf’s most coveted awards and just missed another record-breaking milestone, but what’s even more impressive is her proximity to induction into the LPGA Hall of Fame. The No. 2 player in the world is just two points away from the 27 needed to qualify, at just 25 years old.
Unlike the World Golf Hall of Fame where invitations are left to a selection committee, the LPGA Hall of Fame is based purely on a points system. You either earn your invitation, or you don’t. Ko is now shockingly close to reaching the proper amount of points for Hall of Fame inclusion.
To get into the LPGA Hall of Fame, players must meet certain criteria. First, they must win either an LPGA major, the Vare Trophy or the Rolex Player of the Year Honors. Ko has accomplished each of these feats twice already in her career. After this hurdle, the points system comes in. A player will receive one point for each of the following: an LPGA tournament win, the Vare Trophy, Rolex Player of the Year and an Olympic gold medal. Two points are awarded for major championship wins.
Here’s a breakdown of Ko’s earned points:
LPGA Wins: 17 points (Two of Ko’s wins occurred when she was an amateur. She became the only amateur to ever win two LPGA Tour events).
Vare Trophy: 2 points (Ko won her first Vare Trophy in 2021 with a season-long scoring average of 69.329)
Rolex Player of the Year: 2 points (Ko was first awarded Rolex Player of the Year honors in 2015, after capturing five wins throughout the season, including her first major)
Major championships: 4 points, 2 wins (Ko won the 2015 Evian Championship and the 2016 ANA Inspiration)
Ko’s 25 accumulated points at 25 years old is almost hard to fathom, but it is less so when one remembers her days as a young phenom. Ko broke out onto the LPGA scene at just 15 years old, when she won her first event as an amateur at the Canadian Open in 2012.
Golf fans might be enthralled by Ko’s mind-boggling accolades, but the key to her accumulation of said accolades involves a unique strategy: not paying attention to them at all.
“If I could ever go into the Hall of Fame, it would be really cool. Especially with so many of the big names and the legends that are in the Hall of Fame,” Ko said to the media following her victory at the Tour Championship. “I’m sure that’s going to be all the questions that everybody here is going to ask me next year as well. Like, you know, you’re so close, or how is it going to be, what’s your approach?”
“But, you know, like my mindset going into this week, even though there’s a lot of things on the line and these opportunities don’t come very often, I just try to focus on my game. I know that if I play good golf and keep putting myself in contention, all of those other things are going to follow. So I don’t think I’m going to think too much about the Hall of Fame. If it happens, that’s great, and it will be a huge honor, but it’s definitely not the biggest thing as a goal for next year.”
Professional golfers often talk about their goal-setting strategies, and it’s commonplace to hear players focus on specific benchmarks that they find to be particularly motivating. But Ko’s mindset differs. She diverts her attention away from the awards and accolades on the line. She makes an effort to hone in on one simple thing: playing well.
Ko might be knocking on the door of the LPGA Hall of Fame, but her mind is nowhere near it. And clearly it is working for her.