Male Pros Get Older Females Get Younger
Adam Scott sorta messes up the storyline here. Yeah, hes just 23, and yeah, he won last week. But the only under-30 winner this year prior to Scott was Tiger Woods. Tiger seems like hes in his 30s ' hes going on his eighth season and he already has 40 tour wins. But he was the full extent of the under-30s until Scott skewered the age thing at the Players.
Last year, there were 11 guys 40-and-over who won. Davis Love III was a four-time winner. One winner ' Craig Stadler ' was 50. Only six winners were in their 20s.
The stars of the LPGA could pass for most of the tour winners daughters. Oh, Annika Sorenstam is entering middle-age, golf-wise, at age 33. But on the LPGA, youre pretty much washed up by the time your 40, unless your last name is Inkster or Jones.
In the case of one particular 14-year-old, a 50-year-old winner on the PGA Tour could almost be her grandfather. Hey, Michelle Wie is young even for the kiddies who do female gymnastics. And 17-year-old Aree Song had to be given permission from LPGA commissioner Ty Votaw before she could join the tour. Wie, thankfully, hasnt taken that step yet.
Song set a record when she was in the final group at the Nabisco four years ago at age 13. That record was tied a year ago when Wie ' yes, just 13 ' played in the final group. Wie has already taken on the men of the PGA Tour ' she shot a 68 in this years Sony Open and missed the cut by just one stroke.
Grace Park is a grand old dame of 25. Yes, she remembers eight or nine years ago when she was a hot commodity on the American Junior Golf Association. But she interrupted her march to LPGA stardom for something called college ' a phrase with which much of the LPGA newcomers are not familiar. Grace has to think hard ' very hard ' to recall when she saw someone with as much potential as the teen-agers Wie and Song.
I played with Michelle for the first time today, she said during last weeks Nabisco, and she is incredible. She is more than what you all know. I mean she really impressed me and not only in her golf game. She was such a sweet 14 year old that I really enjoyed playing with her.
And Aree, she's got a tremendous amount of talent. She's already had a successful career and she just has much more to come.
At last weeks Nabisco ' an LPGA major won by Park ' only two players over 30 finished in the top 12. That, incidentally matched the number ' two ' who are teenagers - Wie and Song.
Sorenstam swallows hard when she considers what she was doing at age 14. Wie has broken 70 on the mens tour. Sorenstam still had a very difficult time breaking 100 on the Bro Balsta course in Sweden. She, too, has a difficult time comprehending it all.
Well, I mean, overall, she (Wie) is so talented, Sorenstam says. It must be great to be 14 and hit it that far, and I love her attitude. I think she's very brave on the golf course and just outside the golf course. I think she has improved since I played with her last year, just watching her on the range, et cetera. But still, she's very young, she has a lot to learn and I think she will do that by being out here.
Wies youthful physique stretches over 6 feet ' very tall, even for a young male. But she has learned to generate tremendous power with those long arms and legs. She routinely hits her driver 280 yards. Her short game has a ways to go to catch up, but she has made tremendous improvement in the last year.
I tell you what - I was watching Michelle's game from the beginning, said Park. Not because I wanted to create any kind of whatever - it's just she's 14, and it was my first time playing with her.
And somehow, Wie has kept a certain little-girl innocence. The other women have noticed it on the LPGA. Fame ' even as a teen-ager ' has not gone to her head. She still is a kid, and a genuinely nice one, at that.
I've known Michelle since she was 12, said Park. And she's always been sweet, funny, like to joke around and do that.
But on the golf course, she was deadly serious. There was not a sign that showed that she was 14 years old. And that was really impressive.
Lorena Ochoa was playing golf with the boys in Guadalajara, Mexico, when she was 14. She, too, cant believe how nice a person this 14-year-old Hawaiian is.
Shes unbelievable, Ochoa said. I wish her the best She brings a lot of people out to watch the tournaments. She's nice and people like her. It's positive for all of us that she's here. I respect her and I wish her the best.
The men are getting older, wiser ' and more skillful. The girls ' you cant really call teen-agers women yet ' seemingly are getting younger. But they are getting more skillful, too. Wie is a kid, but what a player. Song isnt quite as much a kid, but what a player, too. Grace Park, Annika Sorenstam ' are you listening?
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Rahm, Koepka both jump in OWGR after wins
Jon Rahm and Brooks Koepka both made moves inside the top 10 of the Official World Golf Rankings following wins in Dubai and Japan, respectively.
Rahm captured the European Tour season finale, winning the DP World Tour Championship by a shot. It was his third worldwide victory of 2017 and it allowed the Spaniard to overtake Hideki Matsuyama at world No. 4. It also establishes a new career high in the rankings for Rahm, who started the year ranked No. 137.
Koepka cruised to a nine-shot victory while successfully defending his title at the Japan Tour's Dunlop Phoenix. The victory was his first since winning the U.S. Open and it helped Koepka jump three spots to No. 7 in the latest rankings. Reigning PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Xander Schauffele, who finished second behind Koepka in Japan, went from 30th to 24th.
After earning his maiden PGA Tour victory at the RSM Classic, Austin Cook vaulted from No. 302 to No. 144 in the world. Runner-up J.J. Spaun jumped 48 spots to No. 116, while a hole-out with his final approach helped Brian Gay rise 73 spots to No. 191 after finishing alone in third at Sea Island.
Dustin Johnson remains world No. 1, followed by Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas with Rahm and Matsuyama now rounding out the top five. Justin Rose remains at No. 6, followed by Koepka, Rickie Fowler and Henrik Stenson. Rory McIlroy slid two spots to No. 10 and is now in danger of falling out of the top 10 for the first time since May 2014.
With his return to competition now less than two weeks away, Tiger Woods fell four more spots to No. 1193 in the latest rankings.
Love to undergo hip replacement surgery
ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Two days removed from arguably the most hectic week of his year, Davis Love III will undergo replacement surgery on his left hip.
Love, who hosted and played in last week’s RSM Classic, said he tried to avoid the surgery, but the pain became too much and he will undergo the procedure on Tuesday at the Andrews Sports Medicine and Orthopedic Center in Birmingham, Ala.
“I had a hip problem the last few years, and I had a hip resurfacing trying to avoid hip surgery because I’m a chicken, but after playing [the CIMB Classic and Sanderson Farms Championship] I realized it was an uphill battle,” Love said.
Love said doctors have told him recovery from the procedure will take between three to four months, but he should be able to start work on his chipping and putting within a few weeks.
Love, who missed the cut at the RSM Classic, said earlier in the week that his goal is to become the oldest PGA Tour winner and that the only way to achieve that was by having the surgery.
“Now I’m excited that I’ve crossed that bridge,” said Love, who will turn 54 next April. “Once I get over that I can go right back to the Tour. I won after a spine fusion [2015 Wyndham Championship] and now I’d like to win with a new hip. That’s the reason I’m doing it so I can get back to golf and keep up.”
LPGA awards: Ryu, S.H. Park tie for POY
NAPLES, Fla. – In the end, the CME Group Tour Championship played out a lot like the entire 2017 season did.
Nobody dominated the game’s big season-ending awards, though Lexi Thompson and Sung Hyun Park came close.
Thompson walked away with the CME Globe’s $1 million jackpot and the Vare Trophy for low scoring average. If she had made that last 2-foot putt at the 72nd hole Sunday, she might also have walked away with the Rolex Player of the Year Award and the Rolex world No. 1 ranking.
Park shared the Rolex Player of the Year Award with So Yeon Ryu. By doing so, Park joined Nancy Lopez as the only players in LPGA history to win the Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year titles in the same season. Lopez did it in 1978. Park also won the LPGA money-winning title.
Here’s a summary of the big prizes:
Rolex Player of the Year
Ryu and Park both ended up with 162 points in the points-based competition. Park started the week five points behind Ryu but made the up the difference with the five points she won for tying for sixth.
It marks the first time the award has been shared since its inception in 1966.
Ryu and Park join Inbee Park as the only South Koreans to win the award. Park won it in 2013.
Thompson won the award with a scoring average of 69.114. Sung Hyun Park finished second at 69.247. Park needed to finish at least nine shots ahead of Thompson at the CME Group Tour Championship to win the trophy.
There were a record 12 players with scoring averages under 70.0 this year, besting the previous record of five, set last year.
CME Globe $1 million prize
Thompson entered the week first in the CME points reset, but it played out as a two-woman race on the final day. Park needed to finish ahead of Thompson in the CME Group Tour Championship to overtake her for the big money haul. Thompson tied for second in the tournament while Park tied for sixth.
By winning the CME Group Tour Championship, Jutanugarn had a shot at the $1 million, but she needed Park to finish the tournament eighth or worse and Thompson to finish ninth or worse.
LPGA money-winning title
Park claimed the title with $2,335,883 in earnings. Ryu was second, with $1,981,593 in earnings.
The tour saw a tour-record 17 players win $1 million or more this season, two more than did so last year.
Ryu came into the week as the only player who could pass Park for the title, but Ryu needed to win to do so.
Rolex world No. 1 ranking
The top ranking was up for grabs at CME, with No. 1 Feng, No. 2 Sung Hyun Park and No. 3 So Yeon Ryu all within three hundredths of a ranking point. Even No. 4 Lexi Thompson had a chance to grab the top spot if she won, but in the end nobody could overtake Feng. Her reign will extend to a second straight week.
Rolex Rookie of the Year
Park ran away with the award with her U.S. Women’s Open and Canadian Pacific Women’s Open victories among her 11 top-10 finishes. She had the award locked up long before she arrived for the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship.
Ko ends first winless season with T-16 at CME
NAPLES, Fla. – Lydia Ko carved a hybrid 3-iron to 15 feet and ended the most intensely scrutinized year of her young career with a birdie Sunday at the CME Group Tour Championship.
“Nice to finish the season on a high note,” Ko said after posting a 3-under-par 69, good for a tie for 16th. “Obviously, not a top-10 finish, but I played really solid. I feel like I finished the season off pretty strong.”
Ko posted two second-place finishes, a third-place finish and a tie for fifth in her last eight starts.
“Ever since Indy [in early September], I played really good and put myself in good positions,” Ko said. “I felt like the confidence factor was definitely higher than during the middle of the year. I had some opportunities, looks for wins.”
Sunday marked the end of Ko’s first winless season since she began playing LPGA events at 15 years old.
Let the record show, she left with a smile, eager to travel to South Korea to spend the next month with family after playing a charity event in Bradenton, Fla., on Monday.
Much was made of Ko beginning the year with sweeping changes, with new equipment (PXG), a new coach (Gary Gilchrist) and a new caddie (Peter Godfrey).
In the final summary, it wasn’t a Ko-like year, not by the crazy high standards she has set.
She saw her run of 85 consecutive weeks at No. 1 end in June. She arrived in Naples holding on to the No. 8 ranking. She ends the year 13th on the LPGA money list with $1,177,450 in earnings. It’s the first time she hasn’t finished among the top three in money in her four full years on tour. She did log 11 top-10 finishes overall, three second-place finishes.
How did she evaluate her season?
“I feel like it was a better year than everyone else thinks, like `Lydia is in a slump,’” Ko said. “I feel like I played solid.
“It's a season that, obviously, I learned a lot from ... the mental aspect of saying, `Hey, get over the bads and kind of move on.’”
Ko said she learned a lot watching Stacy Lewis deal with her run of second-place finishes after winning so much.
“Winning a championship is a huge deal, but, sometimes, it's overrated when you haven't won,” Ko said. “Like, you're still playing well, but just haven't won. I kind of feel like it's been that kind of year.
“I think everybody has little ups and downs.”