How long before Ko turns pro?

By Randall MellFebruary 11, 2013, 10:21 pm

How long will Lydia Ko keep turning down lucrative paychecks to remain an amateur?

The question grows stronger with the 15-year-old sensation preparing to play in the LPGA’s season opener this week at the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open.

While Ko’s bank account may not be swelling after winning her third professional title as an amateur in the last 53 weeks, she is on a swift climb in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings.

At 15 years, 9 months and 17 days old, Ko won the ISPS Handa New Zealand Women’s Open on Sunday to become the youngest winner of a Ladies European Tour event. She became the youngest winner of an LPGA event when she claimed the CN Canadian Women’s Open last summer. She also won the New South Wales Open on the Australian Ladies Professional Golf Tour in 2012.

Lydia Ko: Articles, photos and video

As a pro, Ko would have taken home $41,000 for Sunday’s win in New Zealand (as converted to U.S. currency). Ko, however, remains an amateur and didn’t take home any of it. Last year, she left $300,000 on the table winning the CN Canadian Women’s Open. She left $19,000 on the table winning the New South Wales Open.

In 12 starts in professional events, Ko has won three times and finished second twice. Overall, as an amateur, she has won more than $470,000 that she hasn’t collected in professional events. That’s also converted to U.S. currency.

As an amateur, however, Ko still gets the Rolex World Rankings points.

Ko jumped to No. 30 in the Rolex rankings with her win Sunday. She jumped from oblivion to No. 184 when she won the New South Wales Open late in January 2012. She moved up to No. 45 winning the CN Canadian Women’s Open last summer.

At No. 30 in the world now, Ko ranks ahead of Sandra Gal (No. 33), 2011 LPGA rookie of the year Hee Kyung Seo (No. 34), two-time LPGA winner Morgan Pressel (No. 41) and two-time LPGA winner Michelle Wie (No. 66).

Ko gets another chance to improve her rankings position this week when she tees it up in the LPGA’s season opener. She’s playing the ISPS Handa Australian Women’s Open on a sponsor’s invitation. She also will be playing the Kraft Nabisco Championship in April as one of the nine amateurs offered an invitation to play in the year’s first major championship.

When Ko won in Canada last summer, she spoke of her intent to remain an amateur, even attend college, with a desire to attend Stanford.

Though all this success may be complicating Ko’s future plans, her swing coach, Guy Wilson, told the New Zealand Herald that she plans to remain an amateur for a couple more years. He said her playing opportunities would be too limited if she turned pro now and had to play as a non-member with restricted exemptions on a major women’s tour. He said, however, her priorities may be changing as they relate to playing collegiately.

“She will turn pro as soon as she can, really, to take advantage of the opportunities available to her,” Wilson told the New Zealand Herald. “There’s no point creating this massive profile and then not using it.”

Wilson said college is still a possibility, but . . .

“It’s not the biggest option as yet,” Wilson told the New Zealand Herald. “She wanted to do some college golf, but she’s starting to realize that, hey, that is probably not the best plan, and she should make hay while the sun shines.”

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Watch: Moore does impressions of Tiger, Poults, Bubba

By Grill Room TeamJuly 16, 2018, 10:36 pm
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Johnson begins Open week as 12/1 betting favorite

By Will GrayJuly 16, 2018, 5:15 pm

Dustin Johnson heads into The Open as the top-ranked player in the world, and he's also an understandable betting favorite as he looks to win a second career major.

Johnson has not played since the U.S. Open, where he led by four shots at the halfway point and eventually finished third. He has three top-10 finishes in nine Open appearances, notably a T-2 finish at Royal St. George's in 2011.

Johnson opened as a 12/1 favorite when the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook first published odds for Carnoustie after the U.S. Open, and he remains at that number with the first round just three days away.

Here's a look at the latest odds on some of the other top contenders, according to the Westgate:

12/1: Dustin Johnson

16/1: Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, Justin Rose

20/1: Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Tommy Fleetwood, Brooks Koepka, Jon Rahm

25/1: Jason Day, Henrik Stenson, Tiger Woods

30/1: Sergio Garcia, Francesco Molinari, Paul Casey, Alex Noren, Patrick Reed

40/1: Hideki Matsuyama, Marc Leishman, Branden Grace, Tyrrell Hatton

50/1: Phil Mickelson, Ian Poulter, Matthew Fitzpatrick

60/1: Russell Knox, Louis Oosthuizen, Matt Kuchar, Bryson DeChambeau, Zach Johnson, Tony Finau, Bubba Watson

80/1: Lee Westwood, Adam Scott, Patrick Cantlay, Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Thomas Pieters, Xander Schauffele

100/1: Shane Lowry, Webb Simpson, Brandt Snedeker, Ryan Fox, Thorbjorn Olesen

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Woods needs top-10 at Open to qualify for WGC

By Will GrayJuly 16, 2018, 4:34 pm

If Tiger Woods is going to qualify for the final WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club, he'll need to do something he hasn't done in five years this week at The Open.

Woods has won eight times at Firestone, including his most recent PGA Tour victory in 2013, and has openly stated that he would like to qualify for the no-cut event in Akron before it shifts to Memphis next year. But in order to do so, Woods will need to move into the top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking after this week's event at Carnoustie.

Woods is currently ranked No. 71 in the world, down two spots from last week, and based on projections it means that he'll need to finish no worse than a tie for eighth to have a chance of cracking the top 50. Woods' last top-10 finish at a major came at the 2013 Open at Muirfield, where he tied for sixth.

Updated Official World Golf Ranking

There are actually two OWGR cutoffs for the Bridgestone, July 23 and July 30. That means that Woods could theoretically still add a start at next week's RBC Canadian Open to chase a spot in the top 50, but he has said on multiple occasions that this week will be his last start of the month. The WGC-Bridgestone Invitational will be played Aug. 2-5.

There wasn't much movement in the world rankings last week, with the top 10 staying the same heading into the season's third major. Dustin Johnson remains world No. 1, followed by Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm. Defending Open champ Jordan Spieth is ranked sixth, with Rickie Fowler, Rory McIlroy, Jason Day and Tommy Fleetwood rounding out the top 10.

Despite taking the week off, Sweden's Alex Noren moved up three spots from No. 14 to No. 11, passing Patrick Reed, Bubba Watson and Paul Casey.

John Deere Classic champ Michael Kim went from No. 473 to No. 215 in the latest rankings, while South African Brandon Stone jumped from 371st to 110th with his win at the Scottish Open.

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Spieth takes familiar break ahead of Open defense

By Rex HoggardJuly 16, 2018, 3:50 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – As his title chances seemed to be slipping away during the final round of last year’s Open Championship, Jordan Spieth’s caddie took a moment to remind him who he was.

Following a bogey at No. 13, Michael Greller referenced a recent vacation he’d taken to Mexico where he’d spent time with Michael Phelps and Michael Jordan and why he deserved to be among that group of singular athletes.

Spieth, who won last year’s Open, decided to continue the tradition, spending time in Cabo again before this week’s championship.

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

“I kind of went through the same schedule,” Spieth said on Monday at Carnoustie. “It was nice to have a little vacation.”

Spieth hasn’t played since the Travelers Championship; instead he attended the Special Olympics USA Games earlier this month in Seattle with his sister. It was Spieth’s first time back to the Pacific Northwest since he won the 2015 U.S. Open.

“I went out to Chambers Bay with [Greller],” Spieth said. “We kind of walked down the 18th hole. It was cool reliving those memories.”

But most of all Spieth said he needed a break after a particularly tough season.

“I had the itch to get back to it after a couple weeks of not really working,” he said. “It was nice to kind of have that itch to get back.”