Ko moves into LPGA mix Friday despite wrist injury

By Randall MellAugust 15, 2014, 9:30 pm

PITTSFORD, N.Y. – Lydia Ko betrays no weakness behind those librarian’s glasses.

She plays with an inscrutable game face that belies her 17 years, 3 months and 21 days on this planet.

There’s no better evidence than the stoic way she’s making her run this weekend at trying to become the youngest winner of a major championship and the youngest world No. 1 in the history of professional golf.

Ko got herself in the hunt to win the Wegmans LPGA Championship Friday with a troubled, sore left wrist that she never let on was hurting until she was asked about it after the round. She shot 3-under-par 69 at Monroe Golf Club showing no visible effects of the pain the wrist is causing.

After the second round, Ko acknowledged her wrist began hurting on the range when she started hitting drivers before the first round, but she opened with a 70 and never mentioned any physical issue after.

“It definitely feels much better today,” Ko said. “I felt much less pain than when I was on the range, because I got it taped up, and that's been supporting my wrist.”

The supporting wrap wasn’t visible under Ko’s long sleeves. She sought treatment at the LPGA medical trailer after the first and second rounds.

Ko also saw Tom Graham, a hand specialist and orthopedic surgeon with Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, a couple weeks ago – according to David Leadbetter, Ko’s swing coach. Ko is being evaluated for whether an issue in her left wrist will require surgery at season’s end.

Ko betrayed no concern about any serious issue.

“It felt OK during my round yesterday, and I think if it stays like this I'm definitely playable with it,” Ko said.

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Playable? Ko appears equipped to win this championship despite Monroe Golf Club looking as if it sets up better for long hitters. Ko isn’t short, but she isn’t a long hitter. Still, she birdied three of the four par 5s in the second round and was within one shot of the lead when she signed her scorecard.

“Lydia hits hybrids like other players hit short irons,” Leadbetter said. “She also has a wonderful short game.”

There’s so much history that can be made for Ko this weekend.

If Ko wins, she will become the youngest winner of a major championship. She would be six weeks younger than Young Tom Morris was when he won the British Open in 1868. She could also become the youngest world No. 1 in the history of men’s or women’s golf. A victory will move her to No. 1 as long as current No. 1 Stacy Lewis finishes worse than solo second place.

Speaking of Lewis, there’s something about her that brings the best out of Ko.

Ko got herself in contention over the first two rounds at Wegmans playing alongside Lewis (71-73), who has battled a balky putter this week. When Ko won the CN Canadian Women’s Open, becoming the youngest winner of an LPGA title at 15 years old, she was paired with Lewis in the final round. When Ko won the Swinging Skirts Classic in San Francisco in April of this year, she played all four rounds with Lewis.

“When I go out there and see my name next to her name on the pairing sheet, I'm pretty excited to play with her, because I learn a few things playing alongside her,” Ko said. “She's just a great person to play with.”

Leadbetter believes Ko’s stoic temperament suits her for the rigors of major championship tests.

“She has the perfect temperament,” Leadbetter said. “You never know what she’s shooting by looking at her. She never gets too high or too low.”

Leadbetter says there is no need to address the pressure that might build on Ko this weekend because of the way she approaches the game.

“Lydia never gets ahead of herself,” Leadbetter said. “She never mentions making history, becoming No. 1. She’s like, `Ho-hum, I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing and we’ll see where the chips fall.’ There’s maturity beyond her years.”

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What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

The Ryder Cup topped his list.

Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

“Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

“The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

More bulletin board material, too.

Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

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Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

“I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.