Grip change, new putter working for Ko

By Randall MellMay 19, 2017, 1:26 am

WILLIAMSBURG, Va. – Lydia Ko struggled early in the year with her putting, but the final piece may be falling into place as the Rolex world No. 1 looks to claim her first victory since shedding her teen-phenom status.

Ko, who turned 20 last month, posted a 4-under-par 67 Thursday to get into early contention at the Kingsmill Championship.

Ko says she’s comfortable with her swing changes under a new coach (Gary Gilchrist) and with her new equipment (PXG), and now she’s getting comfortable with her putting changes.

In Thursday’s opening round, Ko took 26 putts, making five birdies against a single bogey. She’s tied for fifth, two shots off the lead.

Ko’s sweeping changes this year include going to a conventional putting grip for all putts, instead of going left-hand low for short putts. Her changes also include a new PXG Bat Attack Putter, a winged-style putter PXG specially designed for her.

“I really like the putter,” Ko said. “I’m not required by PXG to use the putter, but I told them the style I liked, and they came out with the Bat Attack.

“They worked hard to make it right for me. The PXG team put in so much time to get me into something that feels comfortable, I think that’s why I’m able to use it.”

It’s the fourth putter Ko has used this young season. She tried an Odyssey winged putter for the first time earlier this year before going back to an Odyssey two-ball putter that worked so long for her.

Ko put the new Bat Attack putter into play for the first time at the ANA Inspiration last month and tied for 11th. In her next start, she tied for second at the Lotte Championship, her best finish of the year.

“I putted really well the last couple days in Hawaii with [the Bat Attack],” Ko said. “There are good signs. Hopefully, I will get a few more putts to drop this week.”

She’s seeking her 15th LPGA title, her first in 10 months.

Ko was first in putts per GIR on tour last year. She was second the year before.

Ko said she abandoned her left-hand low grip in the offseason after intensively studying her stroke, measuring her left-hand low efficiency against her conventional grip with a PuttLab analysis.

“My stroke wasn’t that much different between conventional and left-hand low, but a little better with conventional,” Ko said. “But, to me, I just felt more comfortable conventional. At the end of the day, especially in pressure situations, you need to feel comfortable.”

Ko said her biggest challenge of late has been converting “medium-range putts,” putts in the 15-foot range.

“I always putted conventional from that range anyway,” Ko said.

Day (68) just one back at Australian Open

By Nick MentaNovember 24, 2017, 6:40 am

Jason Day posted a second-round 68 to move himself just one off the lead held by Lucas Herbert through two rounds at the Emirates Australian Open. Here’s where things stand after 36 holes in Sydney.

Leaderboard: Herbert (-9), Day (-8), Cameron Davis (-7), Anthony Quayle (-6), Matt Jones (-4), Cameron Smith (-4), Nick Cullen (-4), Richard Green (-4)

What it means: Day is in search of his first worldwide victory of 2017. The former world No. 1 last visited the winner’s circle in May 2016, when he won The Players at TPC Sawgrass. A win this week would close out a difficult year for the Aussie who struggled with his game while also helping his mother in her battle with cancer. Day’s last victory on his native soil came in 2013, when he partnered with Adam Scott to win the World Cup of Golf for Australia at Royal Melbourne.

Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open

Round of the day: Herbert followed an opening 67 with a round of 66 to vault himself into the lead at The Australian Golf Club. He made six birdies, including four on his second nine, against a lone bogey to take the outright lead. The 22-year-old, who held the lead at this event last year and captured low-amateur honors in 2014, is coming off a runner-up finish at the NSW Open Championship, which boosted him from 714th to 429th in the Official World Golf Ranking. His 5-under score was matched by Dale Brandt-Richards and Josh Cabban.

Best of the rest: Matt Jones, who won this event over Jordan Spieth and Adam Scott two years ago, turned in 4-under 67. Jones is best known to American audiences for his playoff victory at the 2014 Shell Houston Open and for holding the 36-hole lead at the 2015 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits, which was eventually won by Day. Jones will start the weekend five shots off the lead, at 4 under par.

Biggest disappointment: Spieth has a lot of work to do this weekend if he expects to be in the title picture for the fourth year in a row. Rounds of 70-71 have him eight shots behind the lead held by Herbert. Spieth made a birdie and a bogey on each side Friday to turn in level par. The reigning champion golfer of the year has finished first, second and first at this event over the last three years.

Storyline to watch this weekend: The Australian Open is the first event of the 2018 Open Qualifying Series. The leading three players who finish in the top 10 and who are not otherwise exempt will receive invites into next summer’s Open Championship at Carnoustie.

Ogilvy urges distance rollback of ball

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 8:49 pm

Add Geoff Ogilvy to the chorus of voices calling for a distance rollback of the golf ball.

In an interview before the start of the Emirates Australian Open, Ogilvy said a "time-out" is needed for governing bodies to deal with the issue.

"It's complete nonsense," he said, according to an Australian website. "In my career, it’s gone from 300 yards was a massive hit to you’re a shorter hitter on tour now, legitimately short. It’s changed the way we play great golf courses and that is the crime. It isn’t that the ball goes 400, that’s neither here nor there. It’s the fact the ball going 400 doesn’t makes Augusta work properly, it functions completely wrong.’’

Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open

Ogilvy used an example from American baseball to help get his point across to an Australian audience.

“Major League Baseball in America, they use wooden bats, and everywhere else in baseball they use aluminium bats,’’ he said. “And when the major leaguers use aluminium bats they don’t even have to touch it and it completely destroys their stadiums. It’s just comedy.

“That’s kind of what’s happened to us at least with the drivers of these big hitters; We’ve completely outgrown the stadiums. So do you rebuild every stadium in the world? That’s expensive. Or make the ball go shorter? It seems relatively simple from that perspective.’’

Ogilvy, an Australian who won the 2006 U.S. Open, said he believes there will be a rollback, but admitted it would be a "challenge" for manufacturers to produce a ball that flies shorter for pros but does not lose distance when struck by recreational players.

The golf world celebrates Thanksgiving

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 6:01 pm

Here's a look, through social media, at how the golf world celebrates Thanksgiving.

Lexi Thompson:

Baking time!!

A post shared by Lexi Thompson (@lexi) on

David Feherty:

Jack Nicklaus:

GC Tiger Tracker:

Steve Stricker:

Golf Channel:

Frank Nobilo:

Ian Poulter:

Tyrone Van Aswegen:

Happy Thanksgiving: Biggest turkeys of 2017

By Grill Room TeamNovember 23, 2017, 3:00 pm

Thanksgiving brings us golf's biggest turkeys of the year. Donald Trump, Grayson Murray and a certain (now-former) tournament director headline the list. Click here or on the image below to check out all the turkeys.