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Oh-K: How and why Ko turned to new coach

By Randall MellFebruary 14, 2018, 7:00 pm

Lydia Ko didn’t go with any of the biggest names in coaching in the latest revamp of her team.

While Ted Oh’s name should be familiar to golf fans, he isn’t a top 100 teacher.

A former rival to Tiger Woods in the junior ranks, he is a relative newcomer to the coaching ranks, though he is proving more than a quick study.

Ko quietly left Gary Gilchrist in January to enlist Oh’s help in getting ready for her first start of 2018, which she’s making this week at the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open. She was with David Leadbetter before Gilchrist. They’re two of the biggest names in coaching.

So why Oh?

Ko hasn’t addressed that just yet. Her camp appears to be trying to low-key her start to 2018, after all the scrutiny she received making sweeping changes going into last year, which ended as her first winless year since she began playing LPGA events as a 15-year-old.



Her changes, however, got the attention of New Zealand’s own Bob Charles, who counts The Open in 1963 among his six PGA Tour titles. He told New Zealand’s Fairfax Media Wednesday that he was puzzled by all the changes she has made to her game the last two years.

“It doesn’t thrill me at all,” Charles said. “Perhaps it thrills her to be chopping and changing. I’m from the old school. You figure it out yourself. You go with what you’ve got and not somebody else.”

It might hearten Charles to know that Oh considers himself old school, too.

Oh, 41, told GolfChannel.com that he didn’t overhaul Ko’s swing in their work getting ready for this season.

“Her mechanics were already great,” Oh said. “It was more fine-tuning things. It was more about sequence, tempo and balance and a lot of practice.

“We worked a lot on her scoring clubs, her short irons and wedges and shots around the green. We spent hours and hours with the scoring clubs.”

Ko was second in LPGA scoring average in 2015 and ’16. She dropped to 10th last year.

So what led Ko to Oh?

Michael Yim is the common denominator. Yim is Ko’s agent. He was also the first agent Oh ever worked with, when Oh turned pro coming out of UNLV.

Oh was a teen sensation, growing up in the same “golf neighborhood” as Woods in Southern California. Woods was from Cypress, Oh from Long Beach. Woods and Oh were 1-2 atop in the U.S. junior ranks for a spell.

Back in 1993, Oh burst into the national spotlight, qualifying for the U.S. Open at Baltusrol. He was 16. That made him the youngest player in more than 50 years to qualify for that major. His locker that week was right next to Jack Nicklaus and Greg Norman. He played a practice round with Seve Ballesteros.


Ted Oh during the 1993 U.S. Open at Baltusrol (Getty Images)


Ultimately, Oh never broke through to make it to the PGA Tour. He played the Web.com Tour for three years late in the ‘90s, back when it was called the Nike Tour. He eventually made his way to the Asian Tour, the Korean PGA Tour and Japan Golf Tour, where he carved out a good living for his family there. He played overseas until late in 2016, when a bad elbow and knee led him to start searching for another way to make a living.

“I came back to the States, and I didn’t know what I wanted to do,” Oh said. “A coaching job came out of nowhere.”

Oh adapted quickly when an offer came.

Born in Korea, Oh moved to the United States when he was 7. But his overseas ties, with all his Asian playing experience, led him back over there for his first meaningful tour-level coaching experience.

Oh was recruited to help Ha Na Jang on the LPGA’s fall Asian swing late in 2016. Jang won the Fubon Taiwan Championship the second week he was out with her.

Today, Oh works out of Indian Palms Country Club in Indio, Calif. He’s overseeing an Asian golf camp there this week.

Oh got a call from Ko’s camp late last year to see if he would be a “second set of eyes” for Ko in Phoenix, where she decided to do her offseason training, near the PXG headquarters. Apparently, they made a strong connection, because Oh ended up staying five weeks, devoting himself full time to helping Ko in boot-camp-style preparation for the new season. He said they worked nine-hour days together, five days a week.

“The days would have been longer, but the sun went down,” Oh said.

Oh’s old-school style is based on work, feeling shots in lots and lots of practice. It’s something that likely resonated with Ko, who impressed Gilchrist with her work ethic and commitment to long hours of practice.

Oh wasn’t just coaching Ko. He was playing and practicing with her. If she was in the bunker hitting shots, he was in the bunker hitting shots.

“I told Lydia I’m very old school, nothing fancy,” Oh said. “I said only about 25 percent of my job will be drawing lines on video and that sort of thing, that 75 percent would be about the practice.

“I told her ‘I’m not going to tell you how to practice, I’m going to be with you.’”

That’s how Oh believes a player develops the feel for shots.

Ko will be looking to develop that feel into a bounce back year.

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Grace celebrates birthday with final-round 62

By Will GrayMay 21, 2018, 1:51 am

DALLAS – Branden Grace celebrated his 30th birthday in style, making the biggest charge of the final round at the AT&T Byron Nelson.

Grace closed out a 9-under 62 as the sun began to set at Trinity Forest Golf Club, moving from outside the top 10 into a share of third place, four shots behind Aaron Wise. It equaled Grace’s career low on the PGA Tour, which he originally set last summer at The Open, and it was one shot off Marc Leishman’s course-record 61 from the opening round.

“Good birthday present. It was fun,” Grace said. “Little bit of imagination, little bit of luck here and there. You get more luck on the links golf course than maybe on a normal golf course.”


Full-field scores from the AT&T Byron Nelson

AT&T Byron Nelson: Articles, photos and videos


Weeks after Grace’s wife gave birth to the couple’s first child, he now has his best result on the PGA Tour since winning the RBC Heritage more than two years ago. As a world traveler and former Presidents Cup participant, the South African embraced an opportunity this week to go off the beaten path on an unconventional layout.

“It feels like a breath of fresh air coming to something different. Really is nice. I really enjoyed the golf course,” he said. “Obviously I think we got really lucky with the weather, and that’s why the scores are so low. It can bite you if it settles in a little bit in the next couple years.”

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Scott barely misses qualifying for U.S. Open

By Will GrayMay 21, 2018, 1:33 am

DALLAS – A birdie on the 72nd hole gave Adam Scott a glimmer of hope, but in the end even a closing 65 at the AT&T Byron Nelson wasn’t enough to earn an exemption into next month’s U.S. Open.

Scott entered the week ranked No. 65 in the world, and the top 60 in next week’s rankings automatically qualify for Shinnecock Hills. The cutoff was a big reason why the 2008 tournament champ returned for Trinity Forest’s debut, and midway through the final round it seemed like the Aussie had a shot at snagging a bid at the 11th hour.

Scott needed at least a solo ninth-place finish to pass an idle Chesson Hadley at No. 60, and while his 5-footer on the 18th green gave him a share of sixth place when he completed play, he ultimately ended up in a three-way tie for ninth at 15 under – barely short of a spot in the top 60.


Full-field scores from the AT&T Byron Nelson

AT&T Byron Nelson: Articles, photos and videos


“I tried to make the most of really favorable conditions today, and I did a pretty good job of it. Just never really got a hot run going,” Scott said. “I feel like I struggled on the weekend reading the greens well enough to really get it going, but I think everyone but the leaders did that, too. They’re not the easiest greens to read.”

Scott has played each of the last three weeks in an effort to earn a U.S. Open exemption, and he’ll make it four in a row next week when he returns to the Fort Worth Invitational on a course where he won in 2013. Scott still has another chance to avoid sectional qualifying by earning a top-60 spot at the second and final cutoff on June 11 following the FedEx St. Jude Classic.

Scott has played 67 majors in a row, a streak that dates back to 2001 and is second only to Sergio Garcia among active players. While he’s prepared to play each of the next three weeks in a last-ditch effort to make the field, he’s taking his schedule one event at a time with the hope that one more good result might take care of business.

“I’ll play next week and hopefully play really well, and give myself a bit of cushion so I can take a week or so off and try to prepare the best I can for the U.S. Open,” Scott said.

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Wise wins first Tour title at AT&T Byron Nelson

By Nick MentaMay 21, 2018, 1:22 am

On the strength of a final-round 65, 21-year-old Aaron Wise broke through for his first PGA Tour victory Sunday, taking the AT&T Byron Nelson at Trinity Forest. Here's how Wise beat the field and darkness following a lengthy rain delay:

Leaderboard: Wise (-23), Marc Leishman (-20), Branden Grace (-19), J.J. Spaun (-19), Keith Mitchell (-19)

What it means: This is Wise’s first PGA Tour win in just his 18th start as a member. Tied with Leishman to start the final round, Wise raced ahead with six birdies in a seven-hole stretch from Nos. 4-10 and never looked back. He'd make eight straight pars on his way into the clubhouse and the winner's circle. The 2016 NCAA Division I individual champion just locked up Tour status through the 2019-20 season and guaranteed himself a spot in the PGA Championship.

Best of the rest: Leishman reached 20 under par but just couldn’t keep pace with Wise. This is his second runner-up of the season, following a solo second in the CJ Cup in October.

Round of the day: Grace carded a 62 – where have I heard that before? – with eight birdies, an eagle and a bogey to end up tied for third, his best finish of the season on Tour.

Biggest disappointment: Adam Scott looked as though he had done enough to qualify for the U.S. Open via the Official World Golf Ranking when he walked off the golf course. Unfortunately, minutes later, he’d drop from a four-way tie for sixth into a three-way tie for ninth, narrowly missing out on this week's OWGR cutoff.

Break of the day: Wise could very well have found the hazard off the tee at No. 9 if not for a well-placed sprinkler head. Rather than drop a shot, he took advantage of his good fortune and poured in another birdie putt to extend his lead.

Quote of the day: "It's a dream come true to win this one." - Wise

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Otaegui wins Belgian Knockout by two

By Associated PressMay 21, 2018, 1:20 am

ANTWERP, Belgium – Adrian Otaegui beat Benjamin Hebert by two shots in the final of the Belgian Knockout to win his second European Tour title.

The hybrid format opened with two rounds of stroke play on Thursday and Friday, before the leading 64 players competed in nine-hole knockout stroke play matches.

Otaegui and Hebert both finished three shots off the lead at 5 under after the first two days and worked their way through five matches on the weekend to set up Sunday's final at the Rinkven International Golf Club.


Full-field scores from the Belgian Knockout


''I'm very happy, very relaxed now after the last nine holes against Ben that were very tight,'' Otaegui said. ''I'm just very proud about my week.

''I just tried to play against myself. Obviously your opponent is just next to you but I just tried to focus on my game.''

Scotland's David Drysdale beat James Heath of England by one shot in the playoff for third spot.

Herbet said he was ''just a little short this week.''

''Adrian is a very good player, especially in this kind of format,'' he said. ''He's already won one tournament in match play last year. This format is fun, it puts you under pressure almost every hole because everything can happen. I think it's a great idea.''