No kidding: Ko, 17, thriving as world No. 1

By Randall MellMarch 19, 2015, 12:30 am

PHOENIX – In case you’re wondering, Lydia Ko is having fun as the Rolex world No. 1.

Seven weeks into her reign atop women’s golf, she hasn’t felt the weight of the ranking diminishing her level of play or her love of the game.

Though she’s the youngest No. 1 in the history of professional golf, she hasn’t forgotten she’s basically a kid playing a game.

Ko brought that home Sunday getting ready for the JTBC Founders Cup while hitting balls on the range at Marriott’s Wildfire Golf Club aside her coach, David Leadbetter, and her mother, Tina. She was out there with a bunch of junior golfers who were having a fun day as part of an LPGA-USGA Girls Golf event linked to the Founders Cup.

“They were doing a run around the course,” Ko said. “And they were doing some fun things with music. They said kids that are 17 years old and younger can participate in this game, that you can enter for prizes. I told David, `Can I go up and sign up?’”

Founders Cup: Articles, videos and photos

Ko laughed telling the story. She likes to laugh and being No. 1 isn’t changing that. It may be the surest sign she’s doing just fine so far handling all the extra pressure that goes with being the game’s top player.

“One thing we try to do is keep her laughing,” Leadbetter said. “She seems to be handling everything quite well. She isn’t putting any undue pressure on herself.”

In fact, Ko’s thriving as the world No. 1.

Her last three starts have ended: win, win, second place.

Ko won in back-to-back weeks at the Women’s Australian Open and the New Zealand Women’s Open.

She finished second to Inbee Park at the HSBC Women’s Champions in Singapore in her last start.

That’s three consecutive weeks where every shot mattered with a trophy on the line.

“I don’t think people realize how tough it is playing week after week in contention, especially being at home in New Zealand one of those weeks, with all the extra things that go with that,” Leadbetter said. “It’s amazing how she’s able to handle it all.”

Christina Kim turned 31 this week. She remembers what it was like playing professional golf as a teenager. She was 18 when she turned pro. She sees the unaffected manner with which Ko seems to meet challenges and marvels.

“The way she plays golf, it’s like watching somebody walk on water,” Kim said. “She glides through golf.

“She looks like she’s swinging at, like, 40 percent. I know she’s not. Her hands are really, really quick through impact, but it’s just effortless. I don’t know, her whole game, it’s as close to perfect as you’ll find.”

Of course, Ko’s game isn’t perfect. Still, Kim admires how close Ko’s game seems to it compared to everyone else in the women’s game.

Through 46 LPGA starts, dating back to when she was playing the tour as a 14-year-old amateur, Ko has never missed a cut. She logs a first- second- or third-place finish roughly once every three times she plays in an LPGA event. She has the six victories, five second-place finishes and four third-place finishes. She has 26 top-10 finishes.

After Ko won the Women’s Australian Open last month, Hall of Famer Patty Sheehan shot a tweet Ko’s way.

“You know who Kathy Whitworth is, right?” Sheehan tweeted.

Whitworth, of course, is the winningest player in LPGA history. She holds the tour record with 88 career titles.

Ko tees it up Thursday at the JTBC Founders Cup looking to win her 11th professional title, her seventh LPGA title. She will be looking to win for the third time in four starts.

Playing the Founders Cup for the first time last year, Ko tied for second. She had a three-shot lead on the front nine but like all the contenders watched Karrie Webb close hard and win.

“I was a little disappointed with the way that I couldn't pull it off, but Karrie played better,” Ko said. “Sometimes that's the case, but I think it gives me confidence coming into this week, seeing that I played well before here. It’s a course that I know.”

It almost doesn’t seem to matter if Ko knows the course these days. She knows how to get herself in the hunt, no matter where she’s playing. That has all of golf marveling.

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Day's wife shares emotional story of miscarriage

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 4:12 pm

Jason Day’s wife revealed on social media that the couple had a miscarriage last month.

Ellie Day, who announced her pregnancy on Nov. 4, posted an emotional note on Instagram that she lost the baby on Thanksgiving.

“I found out the baby had no heartbeat anymore. I was devastated,” she wrote. “I snuck out the back door of my doctor, a hot, sobbing, mascara-covered mess. Two and a half weeks went by witih me battling my heart and brain about what was happening in my body, wondering why this wouldn’t just be over.”

The Days, who have two children, Dash and Lucy, decided to go public to help others who have suffered similar heartbreak.

“I hope you know you aren’t alone and I hope you feel God wrap his arms around you when you feel the depths of sorrow and loss,” she wrote.  

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 1:00 pm

This was the year it finally happened for Sergio Garcia.

The one-time teen phenom, known for years as “El Nino,” entered the Masters as he had dozens of majors beforehand – shouldered with the burden of being the best player without a major.

Garcia was 0-for-72 driving down Magnolia Lane in April, but after a thrilling final round and sudden-death victory over Justin Rose, the Spaniard at long last captured his elusive first major title.

The expectation for years was that Garcia might land his white whale on a British links course, or perhaps at a U.S. Open where his elite ball-striking might shine. Instead it was on the storied back nine at Augusta National that he came alive, chasing down Rose thanks in part to a memorable approach on No. 15 that hit the pin and led to an eagle.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

A green jacket was only the start of a transformative year for Garcia, 37, who heaped credit for his win on his then-fiancee, Angela Akins. The two were married in July, and months later the couple announced that they were expecting their first child to arrive just ahead of Garcia’s return to Augusta, where he'll host his first champions’ dinner.

And while players often cling to the notion that a major win won’t intrinsically change them, there was a noticeable difference in Garcia over the summer months. The weight of expectation, conscious or otherwise, seemed to lift almost instantly. Like other recent Masters champs, he took the green jacket on a worldwide tour, with stops at Wimbledon and a soccer match between Real Madrid and Barcelona.

The player who burst onto the scene as a baby-faced upstart is now a grizzled veteran with nearly two decades of pro golf behind him. While the changes this year occurred both on and off the course, 2017 will always be remembered as the year when Garcia finally, improbably, earned the title of major champion.

Masters victory

Article: Garcia defeats Rose to win Masters playoff

Article: Finally at peace: Garcia makes major breakthrough

Article: Garcia redeems career, creates new narrative

Video: See the putt that made Sergio a major champ

Green jacket tour

Article: Take a look at Sergio's crazy, hectic media tour

Article: Garcia with fiancée, green jacket at Wimbledon

Article: Watch: Garcia kicks off El Clasico in green jacket

Man of the people

Article: SERGIO! Garcia finally gets patrons on his side

Article: Fan finally caddies for Sergio after asking 206 times

Article: Sergio donates money for Texas flood relief

Article: Connelly, Garcia paired years after photo together

Ace at 17th at Sawgrass

Growing family

Article: Sergio, Angela get married; Kenny G plays reception

Article: Garcia, wife expecting first child in March 2018

Departure from TaylorMade

Article: Masters champ Garcia splits with TaylorMade

Squashed beef with Paddy

Article: Harrington: Garcia was a 'sore loser'

Article: Sergio, Padraig had 'great talk,' are 'fine'

Victory at Valderrama

Article: Garcia gets first win since Masters at Valderrama

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 12:30 pm
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Montana parents can't watch kids play high school golf

By Grill Room TeamDecember 11, 2017, 9:47 pm

Well, this is a one new one.

According to a report from KTVQ in Montana, this line in the Montana State High School Association rule book all but forbids spectators from observing high school golf in that state:

“No spectators/fans are allowed on the course except for certain locations as designated by the tournament manager and club professional.”

Part of the issue, according to the report, is that most courses don't bother to designate those "certain locations" leaving parents unable to watch their kids compete.

“If you tell a parent that they can’t watch their kid play in the Thanksgiving Day football game, they would riot,” Chris Kelley, a high school golf parent, told KTVQ.

The report lists illegal outside coaching as one of the rule's chief motivations, but Montana State women's golf coach Brittany Basye doesn't quite buy that.

“I can go to a softball game and I can sit right behind the pitcher. I can make hand signals,” she is quoted in the report. “I can yell out names. I can do the same thing on a softball field that might affect that kid. Football games we can yell as loud as we want when someone is making a pass or a catch.”

The MHSA has argued that unlike other sports that are played in a confined area, the sprawling nature of a golf course would make it difficult to hire enough marshals to keep unruly spectators in check.

Meanwhile, there's a lawyer quoted in the report claiming this is some kind of civil rights issue.

Worth note, Montana is one of only two states that doesn't allow spectators on the course. The other state, Alaska, does not offer high school golf.