Ko comes up short in Oz, yet impresses us with maturity

By Randall MellFebruary 21, 2016, 3:08 pm

Lydia Ko showed us yet again Sunday in Australia what makes her so special.

Yeah, yeah, I know, she didn’t win the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open.

Though Ko closed strong with a 5-under-par 67, she couldn’t catch Japan’s Haru Nomura, who won her first LPGA title in her 72nd tour start. Ko’s 67 was so good on the tough Grange Golf Club track that only one other player posted a better score in the final round. That was Nomura with a 65.

There was no shame in the Rolex world No. 1 falling short. There was no disconcerting stumble like there was in her LPGA season opener in Ocala, Fla., where Ko had a share of the 54-hole lead and collapsed in the middle of her round.

Ko closed really well in South Australia. Playing in front of Nomura, she applied unrelenting pressure, making Nomura listen to one roar after another. Nomura just kept answering. She just closed better.

Still, Ko wowed us in the end.

Ko wowed us with the way she conducted herself in the aftermath of that loss.

After throwing nearly everything she had at Nomura, Ko didn’t stomp away from the scoring area in frustration. She didn’t pause to wipe away a tear or indulge herself with a good pout or sulk before marching home with her team.

No, Ko hustled back out to the 18th green to help Nomura celebrate.

If you were watching Nomura putt out at the 18th, you saw a gang of players racing onto the green to douse Nomura with soda, champagne, water or whatever they all had in the traditional victory shower players get on tour. You saw Ko out there among them, chasing Nomura around with two bottles of water in giddy, childlike delight.

“My goal was to shoot 67 today, and I shot 67,” Ko said. “I fell a couple of shots behind, and, you know, I felt like I played really solidly. Obviously, it’s not the best finish, you know, finishing with a bogey, but other than that, I played really well. But Haru played even better. The roars I could hear, she seemed like she was holing a lot of putts. When another player does that, it’s really out of my hands.”

Remember back to the Coates Golf Championship two weeks ago? When Ko made three consecutive bogeys and then a double bogey in the middle of the final round to fall behind Ha Na Jang? Do you remember what Jang said about the way Ko handled that disappointment as her playing partner? Jang said Ko began cheering her on to her first LPGA title.

“Lydia say, `You can do it,’” Jang’s said.

“They were encouraging each other,” Jang’s coach, Kevin Kim, said.

After winning last week’s New Zealand Women’s Open, Ko donated all her winnings to New Zealand in gratitude for the support she received growing up there.

Ko may be the Rolex world No. 1, besieged with requests for her time, but she takes the time to hand write thank-you notes to her pro-am playing partners. At the start of last season, Ko left giant Kiwi chocolate bars in the lockers of all her peers as thanks for treating her so well during her rookie season. She handwrote notes to go with each chocolate bar.

Though just 18, Ko has the rare ability to step back and see the bigger picture more quickly than most players. She regularly talks about a responsibility she feels toward the game that goes beyond giving her best effort inside the ropes.

“One of my favorite things is when a junior comes up to me at an event, or on social media, and says, 'You're my role model,’” Ko said at the end of last year. “That's one of the biggest things that inspires me and makes me feel like I have to be better for them. If I can play a part in maybe making the tour a little bit better, it's a job well done.”

We’ve heard Ko say that more than once, and more importantly, we’ve seen that she means it.

At the Coates Golf Championship, I asked Stacy Lewis if it was frustrating chasing a world No. 1 who is so likeable and so humble. Lewis conceded it was, and that she wished Ko would “own up to how good” she really is. Frankly, Lewis’ answer got totally misconstrued. If you were standing there listening to Lewis’ entire answer, you sensed Lewis marveling over how Ko has to believe supremely in herself and yet betrays none of it any arrogant way.

Like Lewis, we’re all marveling over that.

And for folks who like to say “You show me a good loser, and I’ll show you a loser,” Ko blows up that thinking, just like Jack Nicklaus blew it up.

Why is it important for athletes to talk to the media after difficult losses? Athletes shouldn’t be forced to speak with the threat of fines. If they don’t want to speak, that’s fine, but the ones who do speak show us that they are seeing the bigger picture of what’s important to their sport, what serves the greater good of a game that has given them so many opportunities. They’re showing us they understand the game is not all about them, even when they’re hurting. By explaining what went wrong with their effort, or what they saw going right with their opponent, by filling in pieces of the bigger story of a hard-fought game, they’re adding to the value of the competition. They’re adding to the value of what devoted fans experience when they invest their time following a sport. They’re going above and beyond in living up to any pledges they’ve ever made about giving back to the game.

Yes, sometimes players need extra time gathering themselves after a loss before speaking. That’s understandable. But sometimes a player sees the need to rush out of scoring and honor an opponent with a good victory celebration soaking.

In victory or defeat, Ko routinely honors the game she loves with a level of maturity that ought to make us all marvel.

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Tiger Tracker: 147th Open Championship

By Tiger TrackerJuly 20, 2018, 9:20 am

Following an even-par 71 in the first round of the 147th Open Championship, Tiger Woods looks to make a move on Day 2 at Carnoustie.

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McIlroy responds to Harmon's 'robot' criticism

By Mercer BaggsJuly 20, 2018, 6:53 am

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Rory McIlroy said during his pre-championship news conference that he wanted to play more "carefree" – citing Jon Rahm’s approach now and the way McIlroy played in his younger days.

McIlroy got off to a good start Thursday at Carnoustie, shooting 2-under 69, good for a share of eighth place.

But while McIlroy admits to wanting to be a little less structured on the course, he took offense to comments made by swing coach Butch Harmon during a Sky Sports telecast.

Said Harmon:

“Rory had this spell when he wasn’t putting good and hitting the ball good, and he got so wrapped up in how he was going to do it he forgot how to do it.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

“He is one of the best players the game has ever seen. If he would just go back to being a kid and playing the way he won these championships and play your game, don’t have any fear or robotic thoughts. Just play golf. Just go do it.

“This is a young kid who’s still one of the best players in the world. He needs to understand that. Forget about your brand and your endorsement contracts. Forget about all that. Just go back to having fun playing golf. I still think he is one of the best in the world and can be No.1 again if he just lets himself do it.”

McIlroy, who has never worked with Harmon, responded to the comments when asked about them following his opening round.

“Look, I like Butch. Definitely, I would say I'm on the opposite end of the spectrum than someone that's mechanical and someone that's – you know, it's easy to make comments when you don't know what's happening,” McIlroy said. “I haven't spoken to Butch in a long time. He doesn't know what I'm working on in my swing. He doesn't know what's in my head. So it's easy to make comments and easy to speculate. But unless you actually know what's happening, I just really don't take any notice of it.”

McIlroy second round at The Open began at 2:52 a.m. ET.

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How The Open cut line is determined

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 2018, 5:57 am

Scores on Day 1 of the 147th Open Championship ranged from 5-under 66 to 11-over 82.

The field of 156 players will be cut nearly in half for weekend play at Carnoustie. Here’s how the cut line works in the season’s third major championship:

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

• After 36 holes, the low 70 players and ties will advance to compete in the final two rounds. Anyone finishing worse than that will get the boot. Only those making the cut earn official money from the $10.5 million purse.

• There is no 10-shot rule. That rule means anyone within 10 shots of the lead after two rounds, regardless of where they stand in the championship, make the cut. It’s just a flat top 70 finishers and ties.

• There is only a single cut at The Open. PGA Tour events employ an MDF (Made cut Did not Finish) rule, which narrows the field after the third round if more than 78 players make the cut. That is not used at this major.

The projected cut line after the first round this week was 1 over par, which included 71 players tied for 50th or better.

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How to watch The Open on TV and online

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 2018, 5:30 am

You want to watch the 147th Open? Here’s how you can do it.

Golf Channel and NBC Sports will be televising 182 hours of overall programming from the men's third major of the year at Carnoustie

In addition to the traditional coverage, the two networks will showcase three live alternate feeds: marquee groups, featured holes (our new 3-hole channel) and spotlight action. You can also watch replays of full-day coverage, Thursday-Sunday, in the Golf Channel app, NBC Sports apps, and on GolfChannel.com.  

Here’s the weekly TV schedule, with live stream links in parentheses. You can view all the action on the Golf Channel mobile, as well. Alternate coverage is noted in italics:

(All times Eastern; GC=Golf Channel; NBC=NBC Sports; GC.com=GolfChannel.com or check the GLE app)

Monday, July 16

GC: 7-9AM: Morning Drive (stream.golfchannel.com)

GC: 9-11AM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

GC: 7-9PM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

Tuesday, July 17

GC: 6AM-2PM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

Wednesday, July 18

GC: 6AM-2PM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

Thursday, July 19

GC: Midnight-1:30AM: Midnight Drive (stream.golfchannel.com)

GC: Day 1: The Open, live coverage: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

GC.com: Day 1: The Open, Spotlight: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

GC.com: Day 1: The Open, Marquee Groups: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

GC.com: Day 1: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

GC: Live From The Open: 4-5PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

Friday, July 20

GC: Day 2: The Open, live coverage: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

GC.com: Day 2: The Open, Spotlight: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

GC.com: Day 2: The Open, Marquee Groups: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

GC.com: Day 2: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

GC: Live From The Open: 4-5PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

Saturday, July 21

GC: Day 3: The Open, live coverage: 4:30-7AM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

NBC: Rd. 3: The Open, live coverage: 7AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

GC.com: Day 3: The Open, Spotlight: 4:30AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

GC.com: Day 3: The Open, Marquee Groups: 5AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

GC.com: Day 3: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 5AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

GC: Live From The Open: 3-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

Sunday, July 22

GC: Day 4: The Open, live coverage: 4:30-7AM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

NBC: Rd. 4: The Open, live coverage: 7AM-2:30PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

GC.com: Day 4: The Open, Spotlight: 4:30AM-2:30PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

GC.com: Day 4: The Open, Marquee Groups: 5AM-2PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

GC.com: Day 4: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 5AM-2PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

GC: Live From The Open: 2:30-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)