Whan has no choice but to waive age-restriction clause for Ko

By Randall MellOctober 11, 2013, 1:45 am

How do you deny Lydia Ko?

How do you say no to granting her a waiver of the LPGA’s rule requiring members to be at least 18 after all she has proven?

LPGA commissioner Mike Whan probably will grant a waiver to the New Zealand teen phenom now that she has petitioned, but he won’t do it lightly. As winner of the CN Canadian Women’s Open in August, Ko earned the right to claim LPGA membership, but at 16, she needs that waiver before she can do so.

Ko is planning to play the LPGA’s season finale, the CME Group Titleholders, as a pro next month, though she may make her professional debut a week before that, at the Lorena Ochoa Invitational. Whether she’s granted LPGA membership or not, Ko is going to be playing tour events as a pro from now on.

The question doesn’t seem to be whether Whan will grant the waiver, but when he should make it effective. Should membership be granted immediately? Or deferred until the start of next season? Or deferred until she turns 17 on April 24? That last option might be problematic for the family with the 2014 LPGA season getting such a big start in Australia and Asia, that part of the world Ko calls home.

Lydia Ko: Articles, videos and photos

As easy as this decision seems, Whan won’t rubber-stamp Ko’s petition. He is the father of three teenage sons. He sees the long view, because as deserving as Ko is, there’s more to his decision. There is more to ask than whether Ko is ready. There are questions about ramifications. About who comes next. About what messages are sent by granting another waiver to another 16-year-old. Lexi Thompson was also 16 when she got a waiver two seasons ago.

Before Ko and Thompson came along, Morgan Pressel, Aree Song and Jessica Korda got waivers, but they were all 17 and nearing their 18th birthdays. You can see what’s happening. You can see the petitions coming from younger prodigies now. Last year, Ariya Jutanugarn asked for a waiver when she was 16.

How many other 16-year-olds are coming next? And when will the next 15-year-old win?

Whan doesn’t want to be the commissioner who validated a new blueprint for teens wanting to play professional golf.

It’s a real dilemma for him.

Almost three years ago, back when Thompson was still 15, I asked Whan if he feared a new wave of teen phenoms will come knocking on the LPGA’s door. This was back after Thompson turned pro, but nine months before she won the Navistar Classic. This was back when Whan denied Thompson’s petition for 12 sponsor invites for the 2011 season, a total double what the tour normally allows non-members.

“At the real core of it, I didn’t think I wanted to be the commissioner that created a new pathway to the LPGA that made young girls around the world think that as a freshman or sophomore in high school that they have a big decision to make,” Whan told GolfChannel.com at the time. “I didn’t want to create this worldwide phenomenon where 14 year-olds are sitting in their living room and thinking, `High school or pro?’ It didn’t feel like the right thing to do.”

After Thompson won late in 2011, Whan granted her a waiver, though it was deferred until the start of the next season. He did so knowing what might follow.

“I respect the fact that Lexi is on a unique plane, performance-wise,” Whan said then. “I also know there’s another Lexi coming down the road in another couple years, but the standard’s going to be pretty high.”

So that’s where we are. Ko is that next player coming down the road, and she has more than met Whan’s high standard.

She’s another extraordinary exception to the rule.

That will be Whan’s way of holding back the floodgates, of tempering blueprints. Ko didn’t just meet the standard. She elevated it.

There’s the obvious evidence of why Ko deserves LPGA membership. She has won a pair of LPGA titles among her four professional victories. In 11 LPGA starts as an amateur this season, she left nearly a million dollars on the table. She just finished runner-up to Suzann Pettersen at the Evian Championship, a major. She is No. 5 in the Rolex world rankings.

Those are ridiculously compelling reasons to grant a waiver, but there’s more than performance in question here, and that’s what actually makes this easier for Whan.

Ko and her family showed remarkable patience and restraint through Lydia’s amateur run of success. They could have pushed to claim membership when she won the CN Canadian Women’s Open as a 15-year-old. They could have pushed for it after she won it again this year. They could have insisted she turn pro at any time this year to start collecting paychecks.

The family treaded carefully, though, planned cautiously, even as Lydia quietly began to lobby them to let her turn pro.

In her 11 LPGA starts this year, Ko got to show LPGA leadership and players a level of professional behavior (outside collecting paychecks) and maturity. That’s a lot of starts, a lot of exposure to all kinds of situations. It’s a lot of time to allow LPGA brass to interact with her and observe her.

Ko is a smart, level-headed young woman. She handles herself beautifully, without a hint of petulance or entitlement. Her family ought to get a load of credit for that. Her mother, Tina, has been at her side every step of the way. Tina, her husband and their team have guided this prodigy so skillfully.

Ko sets a standard that requires something extraordinary for the next 16-year-old prodigy to meet.

That’s why Ko’s petition won’t be denied. Whan doesn't have to lower the bar, not with Ko raising it.

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Woods: New putter should help on slower greens

By Ryan LavnerJuly 17, 2018, 11:35 am

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Tiger Woods’ ice-cold putting showed at least a few signs of heating up earlier this month at The National, where he switched putters and ranked seventh in the field on the greens.

The mallet-style putter is still in the bag as Woods prepares for The Open, and he’s hoping the heavier model with grooves will prove valuable at Carnoustie.

Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

“To be honest with you, I’ve struggled on slower greens throughout my entire career,” Woods said Tuesday. “So for me, it’s going to help on these greens, for sure.”

To combat the slower greens, Woods usually applied a strip of lead tape to his putter. But this heavier model of putter doesn’t need the extra weight, and the grooves on the putter face allow the ball to get rolling faster and hotter.

“You don’t necessarily have to do that with the grooves,” he said of the lead tape. “When I putted with the Nike putter, I didn’t have to put lead tape on the putter to get a little more weight to it. I could just leave it just the way it was. This is the same type.”  

For all of the talk about his putting woes this season, Woods still ranks 56th in strokes gained: putting. More crucial this week: He’s 102nd in approach putt performance, which quantifies how well a player lag putts.

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Woods: Open best chance for long-term major success

By Ryan LavnerJuly 17, 2018, 11:26 am

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Tiger Woods is more than a decade removed from his last major title, but he said Tuesday that The Open is the major that gives him the best chance for long-term success.

“I would say yes, because of the fact that you don’t have to be long to play on a links-style golf course,” Woods said during his pre-tournament news conference. “It certainly can be done.”

Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Woods pointed to the late-career success for both Greg Norman (2008) and Tom Watson (2009), both of whom challenged for the claret jug deep into their 50s.

“Distance becomes a moot point on a links-style golf course,” he said.

That’s certainly not the case, however, at the Masters, where bombers long have thrived, or the U.S. Open, which places a premium on long and straight driving.

“You get to places like Augusta National, which is just a big ballpark, and the golf course outgrows you, unfortunately,” he said. “But links-style courses, you can roll the ball. I hit a 3-iron that went down there 330. Even if I get a little bit older, I can still chase some wood or long club down there and hit the ball the same distance.”

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"Vantage Point with Mike Tirico" set to debut Tuesday, July 17 at 9 p.m. ET on Golf Channel

By Golf Channel Public RelationsJuly 17, 2018, 10:15 am

Special Hour Complementing the Network’s Week-Long Golf Central Live From The Open News Coverage; Premiere Scheduled to Include Interview with 2014 Open Runner-Up Rickie Fowler On-Site from Carnoustie

Features Include Tirico and Curtis Strange Re-watching ’99 Open at Carnoustie & Jim “Bones” Mackay Facilitating Exclusive Conversation with Caddies Michael Greller, John Wood Recounting Final Round Pairing at 2017 Open

To help set the table ahead of The 147TH Open at Carnoustie, Golf Channel will premiere Vantage Point with Mike Tirico on Tuesday, July 17 at 9 p.m. ET. An extension of the network’s week-long Golf Central Live From The Open comprehensive news coverage, Vantage Point will revisit landmark moments in The Open’s history, uncover personal stories relevant to the fabric of the week and feature a roundtable discussion with past “Champion Golfers of the Year” on golf’s original championship.

“It’s a thrill to be going back to The Open again this year, which is a fitting setting to launch this new opportunity,” said Tirico, NBC Sports host who this week will celebrate his 22nd consecutive year covering The Open. “I love being a part of the Golf Channel team during golf’s biggest weeks, and anticipate contributing to our commitment to great storytelling with Vantage Point.”

Kicking off the premiere of Vantage Point will be Tirico’s exclusive interview with 2014 Open runner-up and 2015 PLAYERS champion Rickie Fowler on-site from Carnoustie. One of Fowler’s favorite events, he has missed just one cut in eight previous appearances at The Open. Other highlights within the show include:

  • Jim “Bones” Mackay facilitating an exclusive conversation between caddies Michael Greller (Jordan Spieth) and John Wood (Matt Kuchar) recounting the final round pairing at The Open last July.
  • Tirico hosting a roundtable discussion with past “Champion Golfers of the Year”: David Duval, Tom Lehman and Justin Leonard.
  • A recollection of one of the most unforgettable collapses in major championship golf, when Jean van de Velde surrendered a three-shot lead on the 72nd hole in 1999 at The Open. Tirico and Curtis Strange – both on the live tournament broadcast that year for ABC/ESPN – recently re-watched the telecast together for the first time since calling it live.


“This is harder to watch than I thought it was going to be. I’ve never seen anything like

that in my life. I don’t think we’ll ever see anything like that again.” – Curtis Strange


“I think I got caught up in the whole deal and felt human for the guy.” – Mike Tirico


Vantage Point with Mike Tirico will complement the network’s Golf Central Live From The Open, which will feature nearly 60 hours of comprehensive news coverage from Carnoustie. In total, NBC Sports will dedicate more than 350 hours to showcasing the third men’s major championship of the year, including nearly 50 live hours of the network’s Emmy-nominated tournament coverage – annually the most live hours of coverage from any golf event – spanning from Thursday’s opening tee shot to Sunday’s final putt.

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How to watch The Open on TV and online

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 17, 2018, 8:40 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)