Ko ready to hit the gas on LPGA season

By Randall MellFebruary 2, 2016, 9:10 pm

OCALA, Fla. – Lydia Ko is looking to hit the accelerator this season.

With a new Lexus RC F Sports Coupe, her first car, the 18-year-old wunderkind is finally driving. She got her learner’s permit in the offseason and is enjoying being behind the wheel of her new vehicle when she’s cruising around her American home.

“Whoever is around Orlando or ChampionsGate, I would recommend not being on the road when I am,” Ko joked. “Everybody said it’s the same as a golf cart, but it’s nothing like a cart. It goes so much faster. It should be going, like, really fast ... and I’m going like 30, 35 cruising along to Publix.”

Where it matters most, Ko is in thriving in the fast lane.

Coming off another historic year, where she set more records for precocious golf excellence, Ko is looking to keep the momentum going in her 2016 debut at this week’s Coates Golf Championship. Last year she became the youngest man or woman to rise to No. 1 in the world rankings in professional golf, the youngest woman to win a major championship, the youngest to win 10 LPGA titles and the youngest to win the Rolex Player of the Year and LPGA money-winning title.

“Lydia is refreshed and ready to go,” said David Leadbetter, Ko’s swing coach. “She had a nice break, and she has been working really hard the last month.”

Ko made her historic rise to No. 1 with her finish at Coates last year, but it was almost a consolation prize the way it happened. Ko took a one-shot lead to the 17th tee in the final round only to shank a shot out of a fairway bunker there and into the woods. She made double bogey and ended up finishing second.

“I shanked shots the first two weeks [getting ready for last season],” Ko said. “That was pretty scary to come to the first event knowing you were hitting that.”

Ko took an extended break before last year, knowing her body and mind needed it, but she wasn’t accustomed to all that time off and didn’t feel comfortable when she arrived at Golden Ocala last year. Ko took another long break this off season, barely touching her clubs during a month off, but she returns feeling better prepared for this year’s start.

“I definitely feel better,” Ko said. “I don’t feel as rusty.”

Leadbetter has been pushing for Ko to take more time off, because she works so hard on her game. Leadbetter sensed Ko felt guilty about taking all that time off last year, but he didn’t have to push Ko as hard to take another long break before  the start of this season.

“Lydia actually said she could have taken a little more time off,” Leadbetter said. “I think she’s getting off the guilt complex. I think she’s realizing it’s important to recharge the batteries, and when she came back she wasn’t as rusty as last year.”

Even rusty starting last year, Ko almost won the Coates Golf Championship. She went on to win five times, but you wouldn’t know it. She won all those honors last year and her fellow tour pros say it didn’t change her one bit.

Ko might be one of the most well liked No. 1s in the history of the men’s or women’s game. Stacy Lewis was asked if there’s any frustration in trying to overtake a player who is so well liked and so unassuming.

“It’s a little frustrating,” Lewis said. “I think she knows how good she is, but I wish she would kind of own up to it sometimes, to be `I'm the No. 1 player in the world, and I'm pretty good.’ But she's really humble about it, and she doesn't really want anybody to think that about her. So it's almost frustrating in a way, because you want her just to be a little more confident in it and a little bit more, `I'm the best player here and I'm going to win.’ You know she’s thinking that inside, but she just doesn't really portray that.”

If Ko has her way, she won’t have to tell anybody how good she is come Sunday at Golden Ocala. She will be showing them with a trophy in hand.

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Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 11:27 pm

Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.

The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.

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Rose leads halted Indonesian Masters; Snedeker WDs

By Associated PressDecember 15, 2017, 2:04 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead at the Indonesian Masters when bad weather stopped play Friday during the second round.

The Englishman, who shot a 10-under 62 on Thursday, had completed 13 holes and was 5 under on the day at the Royale Jakarta Golf Club course.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat (64) was in second place.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew wit on the 11th hole at 2 under for the day after shooting an opening 72.

There was no reason given for his withdrawal, but the American has been affected by a rib-sternum injury for most of the season. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 2, Donald Trump

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 1:00 pm

Even away from the White House, President Donald Trump generated plenty of headlines this year.

Trump’s first year in office didn’t dim his enthusiasm for the game, as he made splashy appearances at two big events, tweeted about golf to his more than 44 million followers, teed it up with some of the sport’s biggest stars, including Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Lexi Thompson, and fired a few eyebrow-raising scores. Logging more than 75 rounds since his inauguration, the 3-handicap has only bolstered his reputation as the best golfing president, particularly after his alleged 73 with Sen. Lindsey Graham.

None of his appearances created a bigger stir than when he attended the U.S. Women’s Open. Despite protests and calls for the USGA to move its premier women’s event from Trump Bedminster – the president reportedly threatened to sue – his weekend there went off without incident, as Trump watched the action and hosted players in his private box near the 15th green.


Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year


Despite his controversial rhetoric on a variety of national issues, Trump has remained a staunch supporter of women’s golf, and he became the first sitting president to attend the U.S. Women’s Open.

An honorary chairman of the Presidents Cup, Trump also flew to Liberty National for the biennial team event, where he presented the trophy to the U.S. team and dedicated the victory to the hurricane victims in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.

In late November, amid tweets about the national anthem, Turkey, Egypt and Time Magazine, Trump announced that he was playing a round in South Florida with Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.

Yes, that too became a headline, just like everything else Trump did in 2017.


Playing with the pros

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Video: President Trump makes the rounds at Liberty National

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Purported round of 73 with Lindsey Graham

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Cart on the green


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Presence and protests at U.S. Women's Open


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Photo gallery: President Trump at the U.S. Women's Open


Trump golf properties

Vandalism

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Finances


Article: Two Trump courses in Scotland losing millions

Article: Eric Trump denies Russia helped fund golf courses

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Reportedly fake TIME covers


Article: Trump clubs display fake Time magazine cover


Trump apologizes for voter-fraud story

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Langer: Trump 'apologized' for story mix-up


Pros comment on the president

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 12:30 pm