Should Ko stay an amateur or go pro?

She is perhaps beautifully oblivious, blissfully unaware that her golf accomplishments are far from ordinary. Or maybe her skills are so extraordinary that what Lydia Ko is doing at age 15 should not be such a shock.

The truth likely lies somewhere in between, which does not make discussion about her immediate future any easier.

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In winning the CN Canadian Women's Open in 2012, Lydia Ko held off the likes of major championship winners Jiyai Shin and Stacy Lewis.

After winning the New Zealand Women's Open a week ago, Ko was again in contention at the LPGA Tour's season-opener, where she shot a final-round 76 to finish third at the Australian Women's Open. Ko, tied for the lead with six holes to go, should feel no shame finishing behind Shin, now an 11-time LPGA Tour winner; and certainly not runner-up Yani Tseng, the No. 1-ranked woman golfer in the world.

Three times Ko has won professional tournaments, and she is also the reigning U.S. Women's Amateur champion.

The bottom line: Ko is beating the pros with enough regularity that it is within reason to suggest she give up her amateur status and begin cashing in on her golf brilliance.

Of course, it is never quite that simple, not when you're talking about a teenager who has had designs on attending college in the United States. Not when the LPGA has a minimum age requirement of 18 that would have to be waived by commissioner Mike Whan, a decision he does not take lightly.

And certainly not when there are plenty that have come before her who have shown so much promise as teenagers, only to find playing for pay a much more complicated exercise.

Particularly impressive was Ko's opening round this week, a 10-under-par 63 at Royal Canberra Golf Club which included three bogeys. That means she played 15 holes at 13 under par -- 11 birdies and an eagle.

All along, Ko has maintained that she had no problem remaining an amateur. Korean-born but a resident of New Zealand, she had hoped to attend college in the United States, putting off her pro career.

But when you've passed up potential six-figure paychecks in consecutive weeks and beat the best in the world, what's left?

"Realistically, she's probably going to look to turn pro next year, only because the opportunities now are pretty obvious," Ko's coach, Guy Wilson, told reporters in Australia. "Wasting two years at college could be a disadvantage."

Then there is the other side of the argument, one that suggests there is plenty of time for professional golf, that a teenager should enjoy her youth, that traveling and playing among adults is too much for someone not yet old enough to even drive.

Lexi Thompson petitioned the LPGA to turn pro before her 18th birthday and was granted her wish after becoming the youngest-ever winner of an LPGA event in 2011. Now 18, she has two professional victories, including one on the Ladies European Tour. But she didn't contend in any of the major championships last year.

Thompson has a long career ahead, but the notion that she would simply turn pro and dominate has not turned out to be true.

Morgan Pressel, 24, has been a pro since age 17 and has two LPGA Tour titles, her last more than four years ago.

Ko had no better example last week than Michelle Wie, whom she was paired with for the first two rounds in Australia. Wie finished 11 strokes higher than Ko in the first round and ended up missing the cut.

Now 23, Wie has seemingly been around forever, playing PGA Tour events as an amateur and generating unsustainable hype. She became the youngest winner of the U.S. Women's Amateur Public Links in 2003 and, a year later, was given a sponsor's exemption to play in the PGA Tour's Sony Open, at which she was dubbed "The Big Wiesy" by Tom Lehman, a complimentary reference to Ernie Els, The Big Easy.

Wie all but shunned amateur golf to play against pros, and she had a good deal of success. At age 16, she had three consecutive top-five finishes in LPGA major championships. But injuries to both wrists hampered her a year later, and Wie has struggled throughout her pro career, which included attending Stanford. Although she has two LPGA Tour victories, Wie is coming off a poor 2012 season that saw her post just one top-10.

Wie's career has been controversial due to her parents' heavy involvement and her reluctance to play against those her own age. Many have speculated that Wie would have been better off learning how to win by dominating her competition; there is something to be said for winning when you are expected to do so and getting comfortable with that feeling.

None other than Tiger Woods played it just that way. He never played in a pro event until he was 16 and didn't particularly excel, never contending as an amateur. But he won three consecutive U.S. Junior Amateur titles and then three straight U.S. Amateurs. He learned how to win before making the jump to pro golf. He won twice in his first seven pro events and now has 75 PGA Tour titles, including 14 major championships.

Of course, Ko is winning against pros now. Would it do her any good to play amateur events? And if she is going to play in pro tournaments, shouldn't she at least cash in?

Ko has sacrificed more than $500,000 in earnings to remain an amateur and can't sign any endorsement deals, either, if she does not turn pro.

But if she does sign up for the pro game, all of a sudden, there is increased pressure. Ko knew the past two weeks that she wasn't sacrificing a dime, no matter how she played. That mindset changes when you know that a dollar amount hangs on every shot.

There are also limits in access to LPGA Tour events if she is not a member, which is not guaranteed until, first, she petitions for a waiver of the age rule and, then, Whan makes a decision.

And even if he rules in her favor, does she dive in and play a full schedule with her 16th birthday still months away?

So many questions, so few easy answers.

One thing is certain: When it comes to Ko's golf game, she should keep doing what she's doing. No questions there.

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