Ko under fire in New Zealand for receiving govt. assistance

By Randall MellApril 17, 2014, 10:28 pm

When Lydia Ko parted ways with her long-time swing coach in New Zealand after turning pro late last year, there were Kiwis who were outraged.

Some are kicking up a fuss again after learning this past week that Ko may still be receiving taxpayer-funded financial support from New Zealand Golf while playing as a professional. NZG is the governing body for golf in that country.

At 16, Ko is winning friends in the LPGA ranks even more easily than she’s winning tournaments with her sweet disposition, but she’s also becoming a polarizing figure back in the country where she grew up.

News stories and editorials coming out of New Zealand now are thrusting her in the middle of a public squabble over whether professional athletes should receive government assistance in their quest to win Olympic medals and world championship trophies.

Fairfax Media of New Zealand reported last week that Ko received $115,000 from New Zealand Golf as an amateur in 2012 and $185,000 while an amateur in 2013. The news organization also reported that she then applied for $208,000 in financial support for 2014 after turning pro late last year.

New Zealand Golf’s funding for Ko comes from High Performance Sport New Zealand. That’s a program that “invests in the country’s elite athletes and coaches on behalf of the government so we can produce more winners on the world stage,” according to HPSNZ’s website.

After a backlash followed news reports about New Zealand Golf's plans for continued funding of Ko’s career, NZG leaped to her defense. NZG explained in a report on its website that Ko’s family did not apply for funding after she turned pro.

“NZG did this on her behalf,” the New Zealand Golf report stated. “The following attack on the young golfer’s credibility in the media and on social media has been unfounded and unfair.”

New Zealand Golf officials explain in the report they made the application for Ko while she was still an amateur, but she is still eligible for support as a professional.

Alex Baumann, the chief executive officer for High Performance Sport New Zealand, says Ko got the government-funded support because she has the potential to win an Olympic gold medal for New Zealand in the 2016 Olympics, and that she is still eligible for support. HPSNZ funds other professional pursuing the Olympics. However, his organization is reviewing New Zealand Golf’s funding application now that she’s earning money as a pro.

“As we have said publicly before, it’s likely that Lydia’s earnings as a professional will mean that she no longer needs our financial support, and we’re continuing to talk to New Zealand Golf about that,” Baumann said in the NZG report. “There may be other support we can provide to Lydia such as help from our specialist staff to assist her through to the Olympics. Our level of support will depend on what Lydia’s needs are.”

IMG’s Jay Burton, one of Ko’s agents, said the Kos welcomed New Zealand Golf’s explanation of how the funding program is designed and executed.

“The family is pleased New Zealand Golf provided clarity to the matter,” Burton said.

Still, Ko remains in the middle of the debate.

An editorial from the Fairfax Media put the debate to its readers this way:

“Shouldn't the sports funding system be run on similar lines to the original intent of the New Zealand welfare state? Shouldn't it be a hand up, not a handout?

“Give athletes an opportunity to get to the top, but once they're standing on their own two feet and earning big salaries, prize money payouts and sponsorship deals, divert the dough to someone who really needs it.

“Lydia Ko clearly doesn't.

“But it would be unfair to scapegoat the 16-year-old golf phenomenon. She's not the only sportsperson doing quite nicely thank you very much from the HPSNZ funding system.”

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What's in the Bag: Tour Championship winner Woods

By Golf Channel DigitalSeptember 24, 2018, 12:48 pm

Tiger Woods won his 80th career title on Sunday at the Tour Championship. Take a look inside his bag.

Driver: TaylorMade M3 (9.5 degrees)

Fairway Woods: TaylorMade M3 (13 degrees), M1 2017 (19 degrees)

Irons: TaylorMade TW Phase 1 prototype (3-PW)

Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (56, 60 degrees)

Putter: Scotty Cameron Newport 2 GSS

Ball: Bridgestone Tour B XS

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McCarthy tops Bae in Web.com Tour Finals 25

By Golf Channel DigitalSeptember 24, 2018, 11:51 am

The Web.com Tour handed out 25 PGA Tour cards for the 2018-19 season based on how players fared in the Finals series. Here are the final standings after Sunday's Web.com Tour Championship.

1. Denny McCarthy: $255,793

2. Sangmoon Bae: $218,156

3. Robert Streb: $187,460

4. Peter Malnati: $157,296

5. Cameron Davis: $126,675

6. Adam Schenk: $125,798

7. Lucas Glover: $125,212

8. Matt Jones: $112,000

9. Hunter Mahan: $107,505

10. Roger Sloan: $84,307

11. Shawn Stefani: $80,579

12. Seth Reeves: $80,360

13. Max Homa: $78,200

14. Roberto Diaz: $70,326

15. Stephan Jaeger: $69,923

16. Curtis Luck: $64,920

17. Nicholas Lindheim: $59,169

18. Dylan Frittelli: $48,600

19. Wes Roach: $48,100

20. Sepp Straka: $47,844

21. Cameron Tringale: $47,760

22. Ben Silverman: $47,700

23. Michael Thompson: $45,466

24. Fabian Gomez: $43,657

25. Jim Knous: $41,931

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DJ moves back to No. 1; Woods to 13th in OWGR

By Golf Channel DigitalSeptember 24, 2018, 11:05 am

Justin Rose did just enough to claim the FedExCup title Sunday at the Tour Championship, but Dustin Johnson's late surge was enough to vault him back into the top spot in the World Ranking.

Johnson shot a final-round 67 to finish in third place, while Rose stumbled with a 3-over 73 for a share of fourth. DJ lipped out a birdie putt on 18 that would have given him a shot at the FedExCup crown, and that allowed Rose to clinch the $10 million prize with a two-putt birdie.

Tiger Woods continued his incredible surge up the World Ranking with his 80th career win at the Tour Championship. Woods moved up from 21st to 13th after a two-shot victory over Billy Horschel. It marked Woods' seventh top-10 finish of the year.

Horschel made the other big move of the week jumping up from 48th to 35th with his second place finish. Outside of a WD in Boston, the 2014 FedExCup champion had another great run in the playoffs finishing T-3 at the Northern Trust, T-3 at the BMW and second at East Lake.

Here's the top 10 after the PGA Tour season finale.

1. Dustin Johnson

2. Justin Rose

3. Brooks Koepka

4. Justin Thomas

5. Francesco Molinari

6. Rory McIlroy

7. Bryson DeChambeau

8. Jon Rahm

9. Rickie Fowler

10. Jordan Spieth

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McCarthy wins Web.com Tour Championship by 4

By Associated PressSeptember 24, 2018, 2:14 am

ATLANTIC BEACH, Fla. – Denny McCarthy won the season-ending Web.com Tour Championship on Sunday to earn fully exempt PGA Tour status and a spot in the Players Championship.

McCarthy closed with a 6-under 65 for a four-stroke victory over Lucas Glover at Atlantic Beach Country Club. The 25-year-old former Virginia player earned $180,000 to top the 25 PGA Tour card-earners with $255,793 in the four-event Web.com Tour Finals.

''It's been quite a journey this year,'' McCarthy said. ''The PGA Tour was tough to start out the year. I stuck through it and got my game. I raised my level and have been playing some really good golf. Just feels incredible to finish off these Finals. So much work behind the scenes that nobody really sees.''

McCarthy finished at 23-under 261.

Full-field scores from the Web.com Tour Championship

Glover, the 2009 U.S. Open champion, closed with a 69. He made $108,000 to finish seventh with $125,212 in the series for the top 75 players from the Web.com regular-season money list, Nos. 126-200 in the PGA Tour's FedEx Cup standings, and non-members with enough money to have placed in the top 200.

Jim Knous earned the 25th and final card from the four-event money list with $41,931, edging Justin Lower by $500. Knous made a 5-foot par save on the final hole for a 71 that left him tied for 57th. Lower missed an 8-footer for birdie, settling for a 69 and a tie for 21st.

''It was a brutal day emotionally,'' Knous said. ''I wasn't quite sure how much my performance would affect the overall outcome. It kind of just depended on what everybody else did. That's pretty terrifying. So I really just kind of did my best to stay calm and inside I was really freaking out and just super psyched that at the end of the day finished right there on No. 25.''

The top-25 finishers on the Web.com regular-season money list competed against each other for tour priority, with regular-season earnings counting in their totals. Sungjae Im topped the list to earn the No. 1 priority spot of the 50 total cards.