8. Lydia Ko (golf)
Accustomed to breaking records throughout her career, Lydia Ko added another this year when she became the youngest female player to crack the US$1 million ($1.2 million) mark in LPGA Tour earnings.
At 17 years, two months and 26 days, Ko claimed the Marathon Classic and the US$210,000 winner’s cheque in Ohio on the LPGA Tour in July to knock Lexi Thompson (18 years, seven months and five days) off her perch as the youngest player to make it to a million. Her total career earnings in the 10 months since she turned professional in November last year are $1.62 million.
The likeable teenage golfing prodigy, who was this year named in Time’s 100 most influential teens, is also in line to earn millions in endorsements – with some estimates of her earning potential as high as $6 million. But she hasn’t quite hit those heights just yet, with her current value pitched at about half a million dollars. Her personal sponsors, Callaway Golf and ANZ, are believed to be paying Ko performance bonuses on top of a retainer.
Ko has reportedly bought a home in Florida near coach David Leadbetter, but otherwise she doesn’t appear to have splashed out on many indulgences since turning pro. She jokes her mother keeps a tight watch on her money, giving her an allowance.
“I think I get $10 per under par shot, it’s good … I don’t need money to spend on these huge big things.”
The difference between Ko and others on this list is that she must fund her own programme. About half her winnings go towards paying for coaching, caddies, management fees and travel.