Komania nation divided on turning pro, following Wie

By Jason SobelFebruary 17, 2013, 6:36 pm

Welcome to Komania. Population: Me.

OK, that’s not completely true. From my perch high atop the Lydia Ko bandwagon, I’m still surrounded by others, although many supporters voluntarily jumped overboard following the 15-year-old’s final-round 76 that left her in “only” third place at the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open.

That just leaves more room for the rest of us. Her performance makes seven top-10 results in 13 career starts in professional events for the amateur, which should be enough to make her the first golfer since Tiger Woods to have the suffix “-mania” attached to her name, even if it does sound like an Eastern European nation.

What’s not to like about Ko? She has a gorgeous swing and drains more than her fair share of putts. As if that’s not enough, she handles herself like a player twice her age. When she won last week in New Zealand, she cried tears of joy. When she lost this week in Australia, there were no tears, only congratulatory smiles for playing partner Jiyai Shin.

Shin tops 15-year-old Ko in LPGA opener

Great kid. Great potential. Great story.

Like most stories these days, though, it’s not enough to simply watch this one develop and see where it takes us. We must speculate and deliberate what the future holds.

In the case of Ko, this leads to two pressing questions: 1. When will she turn professional? and 2. Will she become the next Michelle Wie?

Let’s first address the first one. After finishing four shots behind Shin in the LPGA season-opener, Ko said, “I’ve got a couple of years until I turn pro, so I guess within that period hopefully I’ll be able to get a little bit better.”

That hasn’t stopped the masses from questioning her logic and debating whether she’s making the correct decision. In those 13 starts, Ko would have already banked more than a half-million dollars, which has some critics blasting her for leaving money on the table.

If that sounds more than a little callous, it should. Here’s all I need to know about her decision: I wouldn’t want Ko offering career advice to me, so I’ll refrain from offering any to her. Instead, I’ll just respect whatever she chooses.

The truth is, it’s unnerving how many people wish to push their opinions on her.

A quick admission: I didn’t know much about 15-year-old girls back when I was a 15-year-old boy, which could explain all those weekend nights reorganizing my baseball card collection. Now that I’m, well, slightly older than 15, I know even less. From what I hear, they enjoy texting and talking about boys and for the right price, some of ‘em may sell you a few boxes of samoas or thin mints.

That lack of knowledge makes me completely unqualified to definitively say what this specific 15-year-old should or shouldn’t do with her life.

Two things I do know are that Ko isn’t the average 15-year-old girl and when she does turn professional, that half-million will feel like child’s play. She will be showered with sponsorship endorsement deals that will likely exceed any earnings she can receive through tournament winnings. Call that a problem within the game, but it’s also the nature of the beast.

And so whether Ko becomes a play-for-pay competitor tomorrow or next year or the year after or not until after she attends college, she’ll likely come out of it a very heavily compensated professional – even before she ever hits her first shot.

All of which leads to that second question.

Wie is 23 years old, and already nabbed two career LPGA victories before graduating Stanford University last year. And yet, her name is somehow synonymous with wasted youth. She was dubbed a failure before she was given an opportunity to succeed; she is largely considered an afterthought rather than one of the better players in the world.

That, of course, is because Wie was the poster child for the hyped athlete whose reputation exceeded her performance level. Multi-million-dollar contracts for a teenager will do that. So, too, will a media contingent desperate for the next superstar.

Despite a thought that will make the masses wince, Ko could do a lot worse than ending up like Wie. Which is to say, a well-rounded college graduate who is among the best in her chosen field with enough money in the bank to last her a few lifetimes.

When asked this week about advice for Ko, Wie rode the fence: “I have no advice for her. Turning pro or not turning pro, going to college, not going to college, it’s a very personal decision. It’s not something someone can say: `I think you should turn pro. I think you should stay an amateur. I think you should do this or that.’ It’s her life; it’s her career. When I turned pro, I really wanted to turn pro. That was a very personal decision for me. I really wanted to do that, and I have no regrets. I hope she makes the right decision for her. Whatever decision she makes, it has to really just be on her and what she wants to do.”

For now, Komania stands as a nation divided. Divided about Ko’s decision to turn professional or remain an amateur. Divided about whether she will become the next Michelle Wie. Divided about just how much of a bad thing that would be.

As for me, I’m not leaving my perch anytime soon. Ko has a major “it” factor and whether it materializes into her becoming an all-time great or struggling to live up to her 15-year-old self, I’m content to sit back and let the story develop in front of me.

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.