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LPGA Tour

Lydia Ko: Despite mom’s insult, the former prodigy is better than ever at 25

Lydia Ko will probably have to put up a new wardrobe at home in Orlando – with all the trophies she brings home from the CME Group Tour Championship: the glass globe for winning the LPGA final tournament, the silver bowl of the Vare Trophy, the “Player of the Year” awards and everything else the 25-year-old was presented with at the Tiburon Golf Club in Naples. “The winner takes it all,” ABBA once warbled. But despite the record check for two million dollars and a total of 4,364,403 dollars for three victories and a total of seven top-five finishes since the Amundi Evian Championship in July, the most successful prize money season of all time didn’t work out. Lorena Ochoa was “better” by $591 in 2007.

“She’s made peace with herself”

But money, as we all know, isn’t everything. Especially when the “main prize” is standing on the edge of the 18th green: Ko’s fiancé Jun Chung. “He makes me smile, motivates and inspires me to become a better person and a better player,” says the New Zealander. “Since she met him, she has made peace with herself,” confirms her sister Sura.

Lydia Ko and Jun Chung have been a couple for almost two years, writing letters to each other for six months until the Corona pandemic allowed the first real date. Meanwhile, Chung, who lives in San Francisco, is the son of a Hyundai manager, works in the finance department of the Korean car company and first had to Google his new pen pal’s golf career, had taken up golf himself. On December 30, the two will marry in Kos and Chung’s native Seoul.

But after that, not much will change, says Chung, who likes to stay out of the camera’s focus: “She’ll keep playing. I don’t want to get involved in that. I want ‘Lyds’ to give all she can in the time she has ahead of her at this top level.” In turn, she says, “Since I’ve been with him, I want to make better use of the time I have to work on my game. To then be able to really enjoy the time off. I feel like that helps me train better and focus more.”

Three “meager” years already count as a crisis there


Time is the key word in every sense of the word for change, for the development of exceptional golfer Lydia Ko, who began as a teenage sensation, won her first professional tournament at 14, became the youngest tour winner in LPGA history at 15 years, four months and two days at the Canadian Open in August 2012, was number one in the world amateur rankings for 130 weeks and won her first professional tournament at the age of 18. Before the age of 20, she had already won two majors and the silver medal in golf’s Olympic comeback, and now has 19 LPGA victories to her name.

With such a golfing career, three years, the period between July 2016 and April 2021, with only one tournament title and a drop to 46th in the world rankings, can seem like a sporting crisis: “When you’re not playing so well, you have these weaker moments that feel so long. All too often, she has linked her existence exclusively to the numbers on the scorecard, identifying herself by her results on the golf course, Ko admits self-critically and unapologetically.

Interviewer rendered speechless

As bluntly as she spoke in June about her menstrual cramps and their effects on her back muscles (“It’s that times of the month”) after asking for medical help during the round – which literally left the interviewer from the “Golf Channel” speechless.

Equally candid, she says Jun Chung has given her “a new outlook on golf and life”: “How he perceives me doesn’t depend on my performance on the course.” And that’s precisely why “above all, I really wanted to win the BMW Ladies Championship last month in both our motherland, South Korea, with him by my side.” Mission accomplished. If Rosamunde Pilcher had written this plot, the whole world would have called it kitsch.

“You played better when you were 15”

So be it. From Ko’s point of view, the balance in her life has never been better. Without the period of the so-called form crisis, “I probably wouldn’t have the attitude I have today,” she says after her first season of multiple wins since 2016. “I feel like I matured a lot during that time.” And then isn’t fazed by a “You played better when you were 15” comment from her mother Tina: “What am I supposed to do with that information?” After nine years on the tour, you act differently, you’re simply more experienced, more familiar with the processes and conditions.

“Experience is the reason why some players play successfully on the tour for 15, 20 years. They hit their balls and know what’s going to happen. That comes naturally over time. Experience is like having a 15th club in the bag.”

Lydia Ko

On and off the court – starting with training on “more different types of grass than you can name in the same breath,” grins the new world number two behind Nelly Korda. “I used to play up liberated because I was young and clueless. Today I’m freer because I’ve learned to take things as they come and deal with them.”

Soon to be youngest Hall of Fame member

No question, the former child prodigy has grown up. And will probably soon become even the youngest member “ever” in the LPGA Hall of Fame. Until now, or since 2016, this privilege has gone to Inbee Park, who had to turn 27 to become a member. Ko, meanwhile, is only two points short.

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Ladies Tours

LPGA Tour: Tickets on sale for the 2023 AIG Women’s Open at Walton Heath

The AIG Women’s Open will visit  the Surrey venue for the first time in 2023 with the renowned layout having previously hosted the Ryder Cup, British Masters and The Senior Open presented by Rolex.

Taking place just outside London, a number of new ticket offers have been launched to entice fans in to enjoying the most international major in women’s golf.

Fans will now be able to watch the players practising on Wednesday 9 August with Practice Day tickets available to purchase along with Thursday to Sunday Championship Day tickets.

Ticket prices will start at £30 for an adult on Championship Days and from £10 on Practice Days, with this launch offer available for a limited time only.

“Delighted to play at Walton Heath”

Zoe Ridgway, Championship Director – AIG Women’s Open at The R&A said, “We are delighted to be playing the AIG Women’s Open at Walton Heath in 2023. As we return to the South-East for the first time in four years our goal is to make the Championship as accessible as possible for everyone.

“We are anticipating rising levels of interest and demand to attend the AIG Women’s Open and we have introduced Wednesday Practice Day tickets to offer fans even more opportunities to watch their favourite players in this world-class major championship.”

A number of offers are also available, including a £10 discount when booking a weekend bundle and a saving of £30 when booking the new five-day ticket offering.

Mastercard holders are also eligible for £10 off their ticket purchase when booking between 21-29 November 2022 as part of The R&A’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday offers.

To encourage children and young people to attend the AIG Women’s Open, The R&A will continue the successful ‘Kids go Free’ programme, which provides children under-16-years-old free entry to the Championship when accompanied by a paying adult. Half-price youth tickets are also available for 16-24-year-olds.

Hospitality packages are also on general sale, offering an unrivalled way to experience the Championship in which guests can enjoy over 10 hours of world-class action and fully inclusive hospitality. Visit www.aigwomensopen.com/hospitality/heathlandsuite for further information. 

For information on the AIG Women’s Open or to purchase tickets, please visit www.aigwomensopen.com

Text: R&A Media

Categories
Highlights Tours

US Masters 2022: Billy Horschel flips again

Billy Horschel already made headlines a year ago when he demolished his bag in a fit of rage during the fourth round of the US Masters 2021. An official apology to the organizers and the Augusta National Golf Club followed. But this year, Horschel is again unable to control his temper at the 2022 US Masters and is causing a stir with his behavior.

Frustrated Billy Horschel throws bats

This year, it was not the American’s bag that had to be used, but his racket. After another unsuccessful shot in his third round, Horschel threw the club away. His iron shot on the first hole of the Amen Corner (hole 11) failed and landed in the water. Afterward, Horschel, in a fit of anger over the penalty stroke, threw the club off himself.
Just last year, he apologized on the social network Twitter for his behavior on the golf course:
“I am and always have been a fiery competitor. Unfortunately, sometimes the fire inside me runs hot when I don’t get the most out of my game. This leads to some cases where my behavior is not what I want to show, especially as a role model for the younger generation,” Billy Horschel affirmed on Twitter.

“I apologize to Augusta National, the members of the club and the spectators for any behavior that may have crossed the line.

On the Internet, he now promptly reaps the first comments for his renewed outburst:

Things had already been mixed for Horschel. He started with a bogey on hole 1, but then made a few birdies. After his freak out on the eleventh hole, however, he seemed unable to catch himself. A birdie on hole 12 followed, but after that it remained four bogeys and a double bogey to finish the round.

Categories
Highlights Tours

US Masters 2022: Bryson DeChambeau plays despite injuries

In recent weeks and months, headlines have not reported Bryson DeChambeau’s strong performances, but his numerous health problems. Among them his wrist problems and hip pain. On Monday, he spoke about his health condition and how he is dealing with it at the 2022 US Masters. An important message for his fans: He will compete, but he is not yet back to 100 percent performance.

Bryson DeChambeau: “I’m at 80 percent performance”

DeChambeau is back in Augusta and training together with his coaching team. But due to his injuries, he can’t follow his usual training path. “I can give about 80 percent right now,” he answered in an interview when asked about his form. “That’s why I can’t do swing speed training and I have to train smarter in general. I have to be careful and effective in the things I practice.” But DeChambeau also sees improvement in recent weeks, just in time for the 2022 U.S. Masters. “I’m proud that I made it here in such a short time. I’m pleased with that,” he said. ““Hitting golf balls on the range today, I was able to sustain practice for a good amount of time,” he said. Despite his weaker form, he still manages a ball speed of around 190 miles per hour.

US Masters 2022: Doctors advise against participation

DeChambeau’s hip injury developed two years ago, he explained in an interview. The small tear in his hip labrum first became relevant when he slipped “Charlie Brown-like” during a table tennis match against Sergio Garcia and Joaquin Niemann in front of the Saudi International and fell on said hip, as well as his injured hand.
After that, DeChambeau underwent CTs and MRIs resulting in a hairline fracture of the hamate bone. This common injury, especially among baseball players, could also stem from his excessive workouts at the driving range, according to DeChambeau. Back in November, he was probably struggling with problems in his hand: “Last November, before I played against Brooks, I felt something. There was something on my hand that kind of popped, and I was like, ‘Ah, this isn’t normal.’ It didn’t really feel good either. It was hard to hit balls.”
The American’s injuries usually entail a four-month break, but DeChambeau was back on the golf course after just two months. This decision is not without risks and in the worst case could lead to surgery one his left hand. But for DeChambeau, one thing is certain, “the Masters is only once a year and I have to give it a go.”

For “The Hulk,” the last six weeks off were not a punishment. He himself said he used the time to give back to his viewers and to golf. “It’s really made me a different person, and – I hope – a better person who also has a different perspective on the game of golf.” He also learned to listen to his body better and give himself rest breaks, he said.
But despite that positive outlook, his comeback to the golf course was frustrating. After six weeks without playing practice, his rounds were marked by shouts of “Fore.” “It’s just not fun. It’s very difficult on your mental psyche as well.”

Bryson DeChambeau wants to take it slower

For him, the last few months have been a learning phase. He had to deal with the first major injury of his career and (at least partially) revise many attitudes toward sports. “You have to pay attention to every part of your body,” he explained in the interview. Still, he said he continues to enjoy pushing his limits and making improvements as a result. Due to his injuries, however, that approach hasn’t necessarily been possible, “i’ve taken more of a reserved approach now through this season, I’ll start ramping back up when I feel 100 percent again.” For now, he is confident of playing up front again at Augusta, despite his weaker form. “It’s been a bit of unravelling this knot that I’ve had in my game for the past four years,” he said of his search for greater consistency with his swing. “We’re finally moving in a direction that I feel is positive for me being able to win again, hopefully, regularly like I did in 2018.”