After split with Lydia Ko, David Leadbetter cautions her about meddlesome parents

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By Jaime Diaz It’s hard to envision a more outwardly well-adjusted superstar golfer than Lydia Ko. On and off the course, she seems serene, confident, thoughtful and fun. It’s an impression the players she’s been beating like a drum unanimously confirm, and one which the 19-year-old’s own words and actions reinforce. Ko seems to possess the rare combination of talent and temperament that seems perfectly suited to a long reign at the top of the game.But, it appears, even Lydia Ko has
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After split with Lydia Ko, David Leadbetter cautions her about meddlesome parents

By Jaime Diaz
It’s hard to envision a more outwardly well-adjusted superstar golfer than Lydia Ko. On and off the course, she seems serene, confident, thoughtful and fun. It’s an impression the players she’s been beating like a drum unanimously confirm, and one which the 19-year-old’s own words and actions reinforce. Ko seems to possess the rare combination of talent and temperament that seems perfectly suited to a long reign at the top of the game.
But, it appears, even Lydia Ko has issues.
According to David Leadbetter, the venerated swing coach Ko fired on Tuesday after a three-year association that produced 12 LPGA victories including two majors, Ko’s golf game is being hampered mentally and physically by hovering, and sometimes intrusive, parents.
“At this point, their sole occupation is taking care of Lydia’s every need,” said Leadbetter of Ko’s father, Gil Hong Ko, and mother, Bon Sook Hyon, both of whom regularly travel with their daughter.
“They tell her when to go to bed, what to eat, what to wear, when to practice and what to practice. And they expect her to win every tournament. They are good people, who love their daughter and want the very best for her, and Lydia has never been to college and is still young. But they are naive about golf. And at some point, they’ve got to let the bird fly from the nest. I would often think, ‘It’s not easy coaching three people.’ ”
Leadbetter is familiar with the affects of the close bonds Korean parents traditionally have with their offspring. In 1998, he parted company with Se Ri Pak, who had recently won the U.S. Women’s Open, after two years, citing parental and sponsor interference. And since 2003, he’s been coaching Michelle Wie, whose parents, BJ and Bo, have always been a regular presence and strong influence in their daughter’s up-and-down career.
Leadbetter admits being disappointed by the breakup with Ko. Although it will get him off the hot seat as the man who changed—the harshest critics would say ruined—her swing to encourage a distance-increasing draw, Leadbetter will miss working and interacting with a prodigy who is also warm and friendly.
“It’s a shame it didn’t work out, but it goes with the territory,” he said. “I care very much for Lydia. She’s a wonderful person. But I’m concerned.”
Ko may be No. 1 in the world and carry herself with equipoise, but in a sport in which self sufficiency is the hallmark of the greats, Leadbetter believes she needs to finally become the captain of her own ship.
That she hasn’t been is the chief reason the Ko camp is gaining a reputation for making impetuous decisions. A harbinger was her rookie year of 2014, when Ko changed caddies seven times. She finally settled on Jason Hamilton, with whom she won 10 tournaments in two years. But in October, with three weeks to go in a season in which she was fighting to repeat as Rolex Player of the Year, she fired Hamilton.
“The timing of that didn’t make any sense,” Leadbetter said.
“AND AT SOME POINT, THEY’VE GOT TO LET THE BIRD FLY FROM THE NEST. I WOULD OFTEN THINK, ‘IT’S NOT EASY COACHING THREE PEOPLE.’ ” —DAVID LEADBETTER ON THE INFLUENCE OF LYDIA KO’S PARENTSIn order to begin working with Leadbetter and Sean Hogan in late 2013, Ko had to end an 11-year-association with her childhood coach in New Zealand, Guy Wilson, and observers such as fellow Kiwi Steve Williams noted the apparent coldness of that transaction. Most recently, Ko decided to change equipment companies, from Callaway to PXG.
Leadbetter feels that a habit of deferring decisions to others has caused Ko to be indecisive on the course. In the final round of this year’s U.S. Women’s Open, which Ko entered leading by one, she hesitated on her second shot to the par-5 ninth hole at CordeValle, ultimately choosing to hit a wood from a difficult lie (a shot Hamilton endorsed) rather than laying farther back with an iron. The shot didn’t come off, and Ko made a double bogey, going on to lose the championship by two strokes.
“Lydia wanted to lay up and knew better than to go for it,” said Leadbetter, “but she didn’t trust herself enough.”
Ko’s biggest goal in 2016, with her father’s strong urging, Leadbetter says, was winning the gold medal at the Rio Olympics. She would earn the silver, beaten by Inbee Park, and then went into the worst stretch of her brief career. Leadbetter said Ko’s father, who has a background in physical education, became more involved with her swing during a stretch of tournaments in Asia (where Leadbetter and Hogan were not present), which brought on some bad swing habits.
“The proposed solution is always to hit more and more balls, when Lydia actually needed to be on the practice range less and in the gym more,” Leadbetter said. “The truth is, she’s a great golfer, but not a great athlete. To keep up her performance, she needs to keep up her strength and flexibility, or it affects her swing and her energy. When her performance went down, it wasn’t good karma the last few weeks.”
Ko came to the season-finale CME Group Tour Championship with a chance to salvage all the year’s top awards with a win. And following a long range session with Leadbetter after an opening 68, Ko shot a 62 on Friday to take a three-stroke lead.
But on Saturday, Leadbetter said, Ko’s father was on the practice tee with her for her warmup. “He had a comment after every swing,” said Leadbetter. “And some of it was in Korean, so I didn’t know what advice that might be. You know, more than anything a player needs peace before a round. I finally had to say to him, ‘This is too much information here.’ ”
Ko played poorly on the weekend, shooting 72-73, ultimately losing Player of the Year to Ariya Jutanugarn, and the Vare Trophy for season scoring average by the narrowest of margins. “When she was poised to go forward, as she always has, she went backward,” Leadbetter said. “Something was not quite right mentally.”
The instructor hoped the end of the season would bring reflection, realization and some new directions, but, from his perspective, it was not to be.
“I sent her a text about starting to plan for next year, but she didn’t respond for a couple of days, which wasn’t a great sign,” Leadbetter said. "When she called me up, she said, ‘David, this is really hard to say, but I really want to make a change.’ I said, ‘Lydia, if things had turned out differently at the CME, or you had won the Women’s Open or the KPMG [a major which Ko lost in a playoff to Brooke Henderson], would we be having this conversation right now?’ And she said, ‘Everything is not about performance.’ And I thought, ‘Yeah, right.’ ”
So far in her career, Ko has broken many record for being the youngest to reach important milestones, including becoming youngest world No. 1 player at age 17. But Leadbetter believes no matter what coach she works with going forward, future gains will come more slowly. And how the Ko camp handles that will be a key determinant in whether or not she continues toward becoming one of the LPGA’s true all-time greats.
“What becomes clear after a few years is that competitive golf is hard,” Leadbetter said. “Lydia was oblivious to that when she came in at 15 and won everything. She naturally thought, ‘This is fun, I’m really good, this is easy.’ But as time goes on, it becomes more of a job. The pressure, the expectations, and the obligations become wearing. And the competition gets stronger. As you push harder, the momentum can start to go the other way. This year, I thought it was telling that Lydia made more double bogeys than she ever has. Above all, you need a clear mind.
“My parting words to Lydia were ‘Take control of your life. Take control of your golf game. Make more of your own decisions,’ ” Leadbetter said. “And she said, ‘I’m actually working on that.’ Which was good to hear.”

Derek Jeter is obsessed with golf, ‘the most frustrating thing I’ve done’

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By Brian Wacker NEW PROVIDENCE, Bahamas — Derek Jeter owned one of the sweetest swings in baseball.When it comes to golf, the former Yankee and future Hall of Famer’s action isn’t quite as smooth, but the results are still pretty good. Since retiring two years ago, he has whittled his handicap to a very-respectable 10.“I’m obsessed,” Jeter said Wednesday from the Hero World Challenge, where earlier in the week he played a casual nine holes alongside Tiger Woods, Justin Rose and former teammate
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Derek Jeter is obsessed with golf, ‘the most frustrating thing I’ve done’

By Brian Wacker
NEW PROVIDENCE, Bahamas — Derek Jeter owned one of the sweetest swings in baseball.
When it comes to golf, the former Yankee and future Hall of Famer’s action isn’t quite as smooth, but the results are still pretty good. Since retiring two years ago, he has whittled his handicap to a very-respectable 10.
“I’m obsessed,” Jeter said Wednesday from the Hero World Challenge, where earlier in the week he played a casual nine holes alongside Tiger Woods, Justin Rose and former teammate Tino Martinez before teeing it up in the tournament’s pro-am with Rickie Fowler. “It’s frustrating. It’s probably the most frustrating thing I’ve done because the ball’s not moving. I should be able to hit it. I can hit it, but it doesn’t go where I want it to go.
“I’m addicted to trying to improve.”
Jeter and Martinez often play together at Old Memorial Golf Club in Tampa, where both reside. Getting to play with Woods, however, was a special treat for the former shortstop. Though the two have known each other for years — Jeter made his Major League debut the year before Woods turned pro -– it was the first time they had teed it up together.
“It’s fun to get an opportunity to meet a lot of these guys that I’ve admired from afar and fun to see the best in the world at what they do,” Jeter said. “It’s good to see that [Tiger] is healthy, that’s the biggest thing.”
In some ways, Jeter can also relate to what Woods is going through this week.
Late in his career, Jeter broke his ankle twice and ultimately ended up missing about a year after rushing back from the injury the first time.
“For me, even though you’re told that you’re healthy, I was told I was healthy the first time and then a freak thing happened and my ankle broke in another spot,” he said. “You still have to get out there and experience things before you know for sure, so there was some uncertainty there, at least there was for me.”
One thing that isn’t uncertain: Jeter’s love of golf.
“You’ve got to find something that quenches that competitive thirst,” he said. “I love the game.”

Tiger Woods defiant ahead of return to golf: ‘I’m not dead – I’m ready to go’

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By Telegraph Sport Former world number one Tiger Woods is “ready to go” as he prepares for his return to competitive golf after almost 16 months out.The 40-year-old is making a belated comeback having pulled out of the PGA Tour’s Safeway Open in October three days before the event, stating his game was “vulnerable”.Having spent nearly two months working to improve things – and testing new clubs after his long-time sponsor Nike announced it was pulling out of equipment manufacture – Woods has
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Tiger Woods defiant ahead of return to golf: ‘I’m not dead – I’m ready to go’

By Telegraph Sport
Former world number one Tiger Woods is "ready to go" as he prepares for his return to competitive golf after almost 16 months out.
The 40-year-old is making a belated comeback having pulled out of the PGA Tour’s Safeway Open in October three days before the event, stating his game was "vulnerable".
Having spent nearly two months working to improve things – and testing new clubs after his long-time sponsor Nike announced it was pulling out of equipment manufacture – Woods has arrived in the Bahamas for his own hosting of the Hero World Challenge, an event which carries world ranking points and an £800,000 first prize."I’m not dead. I’m ready to go," he told ESPN. "I’m nervous for every tournament I play in, whether it’s after a lay-off, or six in a row, or a major.
"I care. If I care, I’m nervous and it’s good to be that way. To have that nervous energy and channel it into aggression, into focus, concentration – that’s good stuff.
"If I wasn’t nervous, that would mean I didn’t care. I don’t want to be out there flat."
Woods, who has been absent since August 2015 after two back operations, has slumped to 879th in the world and his comeback has had the added complication of having to find new clubs.
In Nassau he will continue to use his Nike irons but will play with TaylorMade woods and a Bridgestone ball.
"The most important thing is the ball," he said. "Once you find a ball, then you can work around everything else.
Critics would argue his mindset may be of more significance, with rumours persisting of chipping ‘yips’ having returned to his game.
That was believed to be one of the reasons for abandoning his comeback at the last minute in October.
Woods is adamant, however, that he made the right call.
"It was a good decision in the end," he said. "The competitor inside me wanted to go so badly and was itching to go.
"I had played feeling worse but what’s the point in rushing back when I’ve waited over a year to begin with?
"I’ve waited this long. It’s not going to hurt to wait just this much longer."
Woods has picked the most comfortable environment he could to come back in, with the 18-man field including 11 of his team-mates who were involved in the United States’ Ryder Cup victory two months ago.
Among the other playing are Open champion Henrik Stenson and England’s Olympic gold medallist Justin Rose, and Woods is under no illusions about the quality of golf he will have to reach.
"I’m out here playing and competing," he said. "That part is really neat.
"Then there is that part of me that is the competitor who wants to beat these guys. I want to compete."

Q&A: GARY PLAYER TALKS WORLD CUP OF GOLF

Courtesy of PGA TOUR.
South Africa’s Gary Player, a nine-time major champion on TOUR and winner of the 1965 (as part of a team) and ‘77 (individual champion) World Cup of Golf, sat down to talk about one of the game’s greatest global team events.
Q: As a past champion at the World Cup, what do you remember about your victory in 1965?
A: I was playing with Harold Henning as my partner in Madrid, Spain, and I woke up the morning of the final round and couldn’t move my neck. I told Harold I needed to withdraw and he said “Don’t tell me that, tell my lawyer.” He wanted to win the tournament so badly. I decided to play after taking about four aspirin and got a massage on my neck. How I played I will never know. I couldn’t hit the ball 10 yards on the practice tee. Miraculously, I went on to win the team event with Harold and the individual championship. It was such a great tournament to me because you had so many different nations from all over the world. They gave the players $500 in American Express checks to come play, and we thought that was a lot of money. Now some of the players don’t even want to play when they are offered hundreds of thousands of dollars. Strange world.
Q: When you won, it split up a string of victories between Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer. What do you remember about the competition at the World Cup of Golf?
A: The odds of them beating Harold and myself was great. Jack and Arnold were already super stars. But Harold was a terrific player and a great putter, so we played very well together. He had a great putting week and it was a thrill for us to break the American strong hold on the tournament. We were both thrilled.
Q: Would you agree that the World Cup of Golf was kind of the World Golf Championships of the past? Would you agree that it was at the forefront of true global competition?
A: It certainly was. You had nations around the world sending their best players to compete, and it was a wonderful tournament to promote global golf being played in different countries every year. I never turned it down, and played every possible time. It was a great dream to play. For me to travel and play golf was not only to try to win tournaments, but a wonderful global education to learn about people’s cultures, languages and history.
Q: What did it mean to you to represent your country in a team competition?
A: Obviously we wanted to have South Africa win this world title. Your country receives honor and a lot of publicity if their players win. It’s important. If we won, we could tell the world and the world could see that South Africa was such a beautiful country with tremendous athletes. A lot probably thought we were mostly a jungle country (laughs) when we were one of the most modern places in the world. People then began to think, well if they won the World Cup there must be incredible golf courses in South Africa. I am proud to say we have as good of courses as there are on the planet. It helped promote tourism too.
Q: The World Cup of Golf is being played at Kingston Heath in Australia. What do you like/love about the golf courses in Melbourne and in Australia?
A: I lost the Australian Open there to Frank Phillips, and I remember being so upset because I had it won, but came up short. Nicklaus and I were battling it out to see who could win the most Australian Opens. I am happy to say I still to this day have the most wins ever with 7 in that tournament. I went to the hotel room, picked my clubs up, and threw them across the room with my wife sitting right there and she got such a shock. I was so upset. Kingston Heath is a magnificent golf course. The Sandbelt golf courses are an incredible golf destination. I encourage all the players to arrive early and go have a look.
Q: Jaco Van Zyl and George Coetzee will be representing South Africa in this year’s World Cup of Golf. What makes them a threat to compete for the title?
A: At Kingston Heath you usually have a tricky wind blowing. They are both straight hitters, so it is to their advantage. I will be watching and rooting for them extra hard to give South Africa another world title.

Q&A: GARY PLAYER TALKS WORLD CUP OF GOLF

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Courtesy of PGA TOUR.  South Africa’s Gary Player, a nine-time major champion on TOUR and winner of the 1965 (as part of a team) and ‘77 (individual champion) World Cup of Golf, sat down to talk about one of the game’s greatest global team events.Q: As a past champion at the World Cup, what do you remember about your victory in 1965?A: I was playing with Harold Henning as my partner in Madrid, Spain, and I woke up the morning of the final round and couldn’t move my neck. I told Harold I needed
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Wait, someone paid WHAT for President Bush’s golf equipment?

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By Joel BeallTwo weeks ago, we let you know that a collection of golf equipment belonging to President George H.W. Bush — including a golf bag, putter, shoes and golf balls — was up for auction. The equipment was originally given by Bush to a worker at Cape Arundel Golf Club, a course in Kennebunkport, Maine where Bush was a member. Considering the lot featured just one actual club — compared to, say, John F. Kennedy’s complete set — we didn’t think this auction would garner much
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Wait, someone paid WHAT for President Bush’s golf equipment?

By Joel Beall
Two weeks ago, we let you know that a collection of golf equipment belonging to President George H.W. Bush — including a golf bag, putter, shoes and golf balls — was up for auction. The equipment was originally given by Bush to a worker at Cape Arundel Golf Club, a course in Kennebunkport, Maine where Bush was a member. Considering the lot featured just one actual club — compared to, say, John F. Kennedy’s complete set — we didn’t think this auction would garner much attention.
How wrong we were. Offered by Boston-based RR Auction, the Bush equipment display fetched $30,000 this week.
Granted, it’s not often a President’s personal equipment goes on the market. Still, $30,000? We only hope they’re in better condition that JFK’s bats: