DALY CITY -- Lydia Ko has made a lot of changes since she turned professional less than five months ago and subsequently became a member of the LPGA Tour.
But one thing hasn't changed -- her top-notch play. The 16-year-old sensation has a pair of top-10 finishes in the past two months and will be an intriguing golfer to follow in the top-notch field at the inaugural Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic on April 24-27 at Lake Merced Golf Club.
"She's accomplished what any ... normal LPGA player would hope to accomplish in their career," said 13-year Tour veteran Natalie Gulbis about Ko, who won the Canadian Women's Open twice as an amateur. "When you talk to her, you forget she's 16. She's very mature, her golf game is even more mature."
Ko and the other top-10 players in the world according to the current Rolex Rankings -- including Pleasanton native Paula Creamer -- have committed to play in the $1.8 million Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic.
It is the first LPGA tournament in the Bay Area since the CVS/pharmacy LPGA Challenge at Blackhawk Country Club in 2010.
The changes have occurred fast for Ko, ranked fourth in the Rolex Rankings.
After the LPGA Tour waived its age requirement of 18-years-old for Ko in October, she parted ways with her longtime coach in December and moved to the United States from her native New Zealand.
Ko said she and her mother "knew we were going to move to the States. We thought it would be easier to have a U.S.-based coach."
Ko's schedule has been so busy that she has not yet been to her new home in Orlando. She takes classes by correspondence.
"I've got my mom with me, so it's ... much better because I'm less lonely," said Ko about her travel schedule. " I think if I was alone right now, it would be much harder."
At 14, Ko became the youngest winner of a professional golf tour event at the New South Wales Open. She had four professional tournament wins in her amateur career.
But she hasn't lost sight that it's still a game.
"I just want to have fun this rookie season," Ko said. "It's all about having fun, and I guess when you're having fun, that's when you play your best."
"I've always loved this golf course and had special memories from when I qualified for the Open here," she said. "It's tough, it's small greens, narrow fairways."