Tag Archives: Golf

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Top-Ranked Lydia Ko Set for Kia Classic

Pictured above: Lydia Ko prior to the start of the Kia Classic. (Photo courtesy of LPGA)

by the ASSOCIATED PRESS

CARLSBAD, Calif. (AP) — Top-ranked Lydia Ko doesn’t want to get too far ahead of herself at the Kia Classic — a week before the first major championship of the LPGA Tour season.

“I’m going to concentrate on this week first,” Ko said.

The ANA Inspiration is next week in Rancho Mirage.

“To play well in a major, you pretty much got to have your ‘A’ game,” Ko said. “Hopefully, if I have a good week here, I’ll bring a lot of confidence into next week. But two different courses. So you know, it’s hard to compare them course-management wise.”

Ko has two worldwide victories this year, winning the tour’s Women’s Australian Open and the Ladies European Tour’s New Zealand Women’s Open in consecutive weeks. The 17-year-old New Zealander has 10 straight top-10 finishes and has broken par in her last 24 LPGA Tour rounds and 27 worldwide. She has six LPGA Tour victories and 10 worldwide wins in pro events.

Ko will play alongside defending champion Anna Nordqvist and Lizette Salas in the first two rounds at Aviara Golf Club. Last year, Nordqvist won the second of her two 2014 titles. The Swede closed with her second straight 5-under 67 for a one-stroke victory over Salas.

Nordqvist tied for sixth on Sunday in Phoenix in the Founders Cup, finishing with an 8-under 64.

“I feel like my game’s been pretty solid, haven’t really putted very well,” Nordqvist said. “Sunday a couple of them started to drop and all of a sudden I shot a low score.”

Michelle Wie tied for 64th in Phoenix. She has an endorsement deal with title sponsor Kia.

“Kia has been such a great sponsor to me. They’re kind of like family,” Wie said. “They’ve just been so supportive. It’s great to come to a tournament with my sponsor.

Second-ranked Inbee Park took last week off after winning in Singapore and finishing second behind So Yeon Ryu in a Ladies European Tour event in China.

“I took it easy last week, just practiced a little bit and just relaxed at home,” Park said.

Hyo Joo Kim won in Phoenix for her second LPGA Tour victory in 13 career starts. The 19-year-old South Korean player beat third-ranked Stacy Lewis by three strokes.

Kim, now fourth in the world, was the fifth South Korean winner in the first six events this year — and the other champion, Ko, was born in South Korea.

ANA Inspiration winner Lexi Thompson is coming off a two-week break.

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Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Korean Women Winning Every LPGA and LET Event in 2015

by REERA YOO | @reeraboo
reera@iamkoream.com

Korean-born female golfers have been dominating the 2015 season, as they have been winning every tournament in the LPGA and Ladies European Tour (LET) season so far, according to the Korea Times.

The list of tournament winners includes Choi Na-yeon, Park Inbee, Ryu So-yeon, Oh Su-hyun, Amy Yang and 17-year-old Lydia Ko, who became the youngest golfer of either gender to reach No. 1 in the world rankings.

According to the Korea Times, an average of two South Korean players have finished in the top five of this year’s LPGA and LET events. That average slightly increases if Korean-born players are included in the equation. The winning streak for Korean-born golfers is quite impressive as there are currently 25 active Korean players on the LPGA tour, while the U.S. has 45 active players.

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Ryu So-yeon and Park Inbee competed in Mission Hills World Ladies Championship in China this past Sunday. Ryu beat Park by just one stroke and won her first world World Ladies Championship title.

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Featured image courtesy of LPGA website

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Lydia Ko Wins Women’s Australian Open

by REERA YOO | @reeraboo
reera@iamkoream.com

Lydia Ko, the youngest golfer to reach No. 1 in the world ranking, won the Women’s Australian Open on Sunday with a two-stroke victory over South Korea’s Amy Yang, who carded 72.

Despite hot and steamy conditions at the Royal Melbourne Composite Course, the 17-year-old golfer kept her cool as she shot a two-under 71 in the final round, according to the Associated Press.

Ko and Yang dueled for the lead throughout the final round, but the play was suspended for about an hour due to lightening. Before the siren sounded to suspend play, Ko had just dropped a shot on the eighth, whereas Yang was prepared to putt for a momentum-changing eagle on 10th hole. When the play resumed, Yang settled for a birdie to take the lead from the teen golfer. But, the lead didn’t last long as Ko added two birdies on the back nine.

The New Zealander admitted that the weather delay helped her regain focus.

“I think that break was really good for me,” Ko said. “I had some lunch and got my stuff together there and I played much better after that.”

With her victory, Ko became the youngest player to win the Australian Open. This marks her sixth LPGA title and her first win since topping the world ranking two weeks ago.

“I’ve always played well in Australia, so it’s always cool coming back here,” Ko said.

Thailand’s Ariya Jutangarn, who shared the overnight lead with Ko, shot a 76 and finished third. Meanwhile, Korean American golfer Jenny Shin tied for fourth place with first-round leader Ilhee Lee.

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Featured image via LPGA.com

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James Hahn Wins First PGA Tour Title at Northern Trust Open

by STEVE HAN | @steve_han
steve@iamkoream.com

James Hahn is heading to the Masters for the first time in his life after notching a dramatic win at the Northern Trust Open golf tournament from this past weekend.

With the win, the 33-year-old has earned a two-year exemption on a PGA Tour, which guarantees his place in at least two World Golf Championships. He rolled in a birdie putt from 25 feet away on the third extra hole at Riviera to beat Dustin Johnson and Paul Casey in a three-man playoff. Hideki Matsuyama, Jordan Spieth, Keegan Bradley and Sergio Garcia all missed the playoff by a shot.

Hahn collected $1.26 million in prize money, a sizable sum for the South Korean-born, Bay Area-raised Korean American who used to sell shoes for a living at Nordstrom.

“[I] came from a small town,” Hahn told the Associated Press. “Didn’t do well in college. Was never an All-American. Sold shoes for a living. And then just one day, the putts started going in and I started playing a little better. Won a couple of golf tournaments, and now I’m here.”

After graduating from University of California, Berkeley in 2003, Hahn turned professional and played a year in Korea, two years in Canada before joining the Nationwide Tour in 2010. His first major was at the 2012 U.S. Open at age 31. During a decade of competing as an underdog, Hahn admitted that there were times when he thought about giving up golf altogether.

“It was a little embarrassing,” Hahn said. “I was going to borrow money from my parents to get a flight home. And I’m sitting there on the computer going on Craigslist and I start looking for jobs. It kind of hit me like, ‘Hey, you have an opportunity to do something with your life.'”

Before the Northern Trust Open, the Korean American golfer was best known for his good-natured humor and his dance moves. In the 2013 Waste Management Open in Phoenix, Ariz., Hahn gained media fame after performing the “Gangnam Style” dance on the course.

You can watch James Hahn talk about his win at the 2015 Northern Trust Open below:

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Featured image courtesy of FOX.com

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Golfer Lydia Ko Plans to Retire and Be a Psychologist by 30

by JAMES S. KIM | @james_s_kim
jamesskim@iamkoream.com

There’s no denying that Lydia Ko has had her head in the game since winning her first professional golf event as a 15-year-old amateur. Now still only 17, the Korean New Zealander is already looking ahead to what she wants to do beyond her professional golf career, and it has to do with studying what goes on inside heads.

“I say my plan is to retire when I’m 30 so I’m not just going to go to the beach and hang out for the rest of my life,” Ko told the Associated Press on Wednesday. “There’s always a second career that comes along with it and I’m trying to build up towards it and, because I’m playing a sport, psychology links well with it.”

If you think 30 is an early age to hang up the golf clubs, Ko has done quite a bit already in her few years on the pro circuit. She became the LPGA’s youngest woman to win $1 million this last July. She’s won five times on tour, and on Jan. 31, Ko became the youngest player of either gender to be ranked first in the world rankings, breaking the record Tiger Woods set by almost four years. Last year, she was one of Time’s 100 Most Influential people.

Ko plans to begin an online course towards a psychology degree soon. “My mom will get me off my iPad and phone and tell me to work hard and look at the text books,” Ko said.

For now, seemingly the only accomplishment left is winning a major. This is only her second year as a pro, mind you, but Ko isn’t allowing the pressure to get to her. That’s a good sign for the future psychologist.

“Last year I had two top-10 finishes (in majors) which was better than the year before when I had one,” Ko said. “I’m looking for more consistency in playing majors and then one day that will give me a chance to be around the lead.”

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Featured image via Golf Digest

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Lydia Ko Named the Youngest Golfer to Reach No. 1

by REERA YOO | @reeraboo
reera@iamkoream.com

Lydia Ko, 17, made golf history on Saturday by becoming the youngest player of either gender to reach No. 1 in the world ranking, breaking Tiger Woods’ record by nearly four years, according to ESPN.

Ko initially held a four shot lead in the Coates Golf Championship in Ocala, Fla., but the teen golfer double-bogeyed on the 17th hole and lost by one stroke to South Korea’s Na-yeon Choi, who finished with a 4-under 68 and a 16-under total. The New Zealander ended up placing second in a three-way tie with Jessica Korda and Ha Na Jang, but she unseated Inbee Park in the top spot of the Rolex World Rankings.

Tiger Woods previously held the record for being the youngest golfer to climb to No. 1 in 1997, when he was only 21 years old. Ko managed to reach the mark by 3 years, 8 months and 14 days earlier.

Ko seems to be the youngest player to achieve just about anything in the golf world. She became the youngest player to win a professional golf tournament at age 14 and was named the youngest winner of an LPGA Tour event at age 15 after she won gold at the CN Canadian Women’s Open.

Last November, Ko ended the season by winning the CME Titleholders and taking home the $1 million bonus for the season-long points rage. If Ko had won Coates Championship, it would have been her sixth LPGA title, according to the Golf Channel

Coates Golf Championship Presented By R+L Carriers - Final RoundNa-yeon Choi poses with the Coates Golf Championship trophy. Photo courtesy of AFP-Yonhap.

Meanwhile, Choi’s victory at the Golden Ocala Golf and Equestrian Club was an emotional one as it marked the 27-year-old golfer’s first win since 2012. Choi had won the 2012 U.S. Women’s Open, but she fell into a two-year victory drought and eventually was dropped from the top 15 in the world rankings.

“I think I was so nervous out there,” Choi told ESPN after winning her eighth LPGA title as she fought back tears. “I was waiting so long for this moment.”

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Photo courtesy of  Chris Trotman/Getty Images via LPGA.com

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Lydia Ko Reveals New Look for 2015 LPGA Season

by REERA YOO | @reeraboo
reera@iamkoream.com

Lydia Ko recently unveiled a new look for the new 2015 LPGA season.

The 17-year-old golfer ditched her trademark glasses for contact lenses during her offseason. Ko joked that her transformation was so great that even her caddie, Jason Hamilton, did not recognize her.

“I’ve been using [contact lenses] a couple weeks now,” Kim said in an interview with the Golf Channel. “I think it’s a good change. I’ve definitely gotten used to them.”

According to the teen golfer, her switch to contact lenses was for practical purposes as her optometrist warned her that glasses can cause distortion in peripheral vision and can be a disadvantage in tournaments held in rainy countries, such as the British Open.

“The last thing I want is to have to clean my glasses when I’m playing,” she said.

For the first time in her career, Ko took a month off from golf. She spent her break traveling between her New Zealand home and South Korea.

Ko opened the 2015 LPGA season with a 4-under par 68 at the Coates Golf Championship in Florida on Wednesday. She is currently in a four-way tie for third place and is five shots behind leader Jang Ha Na.

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Photo courtesy of BWMedia.co.nz and LPGA

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Michelle Wie to Make Guest Appearance on ‘Hawaii Five-0′

by JAMES S. KIM | @james_s_kim
jamesskim@iamkoream.com

Michelle Wie isn’t a stranger to the spotlight, especially after enjoying a very successful resurgent 2014 LPGA season. To keep herself busy during the offseason, the 25-year-old will be joining fellow Korean American actors Grace Park and Daniel Dae Kim in an upcoming episode of Hawaii Five-0, Golf.com reports.

Wie posted the above picture of herself posing on the Hawaii Five-0 set on her Instagram account (@themichellewie), saying, “Officially an actress now #hawaii50 #wheresmySAGcard @danieldaekim.”

Like Wie, Kim is a Honolulu native and a close friend of hers. He was on hand to watch Wie win her first major championship at the 2014 U.S. Women’s Open back in June.

Hawaii Five-0 airs Friday evenings at 9 p.m. EST on CBS.