Lydia Ko Cruising Into First Start of 2016
Lydia Ko will make her 2016 debut at the event where she became the youngest Rolex Rankings No. 1 in the history of the LPGA Tour, the Coates Golf Championship Presented by R+L Carriers.
“You know, it’s pretty cool to be back, but it almost feels like the offseason goes by so fast. But it’s pretty exciting to see that this is my third year on Tour now, but I’m excited to get the season started.”
Ko had a busy off-season, which included a trip to Korea and getting her driving learner’s permit.
“Yeah, and I got my learner’s permit, so whoever is around Orlando or around Champion’s Gate, I would recommend not being on the road when I am. Everybody said it’s the same as a cart, but it’s nothing like a cart. It goes so much faster, and I’ve got a pretty fast car, an RCF Lexus, and it should be going like really fast, nice, speedy, 80 miles per hour, and I’m going like 30, 35 cruising along to Publix. But no, it’s really cool. It’s a good change. But it’s good that a parent or a guardian is there to keep me in line.”
Despite having her newly minted learner’s permit, Ko didn’t make the drive to Golden Ocala.
“I haven’t gone on the freeway yet, and I want to stick to that for a little bit,” Ko admitted. “But no, my mom thought it would be good, but we’d already left the house by then, and I don’t trust me (laughing).”
While Ko may avoid the freeways, she rarely avoids the fairways, which she expects to be lined with fans this week.
“I think one of the big things about this tournament last year was that we had great crowds,” Ko said. “It was our season opener, and most of the fairways are packed full, and it wasn’t on a certain group, it was all kind of scattered around. Even being out there today during the pro-am, we still had a few people walking around to watch us play. I heard some rumors that there will be bigger crowds this year, so that will be pretty cool to see.”
STACY LEWIS COMING OFF ANOTHER RUNNER-UP FINISH
Stacy Lewis will head into the Coates Golf Championship coming off her ninth runner-up since her last win last week at the Pure Silk Bahamas LPGA Classic.
“I really played pretty good. Front nine, the front nine last week I hit a lot of good putts. They just didn’t go in. That was kind of the story of the greens last week,” Lewis said. “Somebody on Twitter, I wanted them to come to the media center, but they said, said something about nine second place finishes, and they said, well, it’s better than nine thirds. (Laughs). I said, I want you guys to come write some stories for me.”
Despite not finding the winner’s circle since the 2014 Walmart NW Arkansas Championship, Lewis has some lofty goals for 2016.
“Olympic medal and a couple of majors would be nice,” Lewis said of her goals. “I mean and I think it’s possible. I think with where my game’s at right now and what we’ve been working on, I think it’s there. And for me it’s probably just getting over the hump and getting that one win out of the way, and I think it gets easier from there. So you know, I don’t know what the magic formula is. I don’t know what I need specifically will get me over the hump. You just gotta keep putting yourself there.”
HALL OF FAMER JULI INKSTER RAVES ABOUT COATES CROWDS
When asked if she could remember an event being better received in its first season than the Coates Golf Championship, Hall of Famer Juli Inkster joked with the media.
“Well, 1905. No. Just kidding. You know, not really. Not that I can remember. You know, I thought Kingsmill did a pretty good job. But not people wise. I think this has been the best so far.”
Inkster, who finished T40 at the event last year, was particularly impressed with the crowds.
“I couldn’t believe all the people out here last year, and I know as the tournament grows and we get more established here, that it will -- the galleries will keep growing,” Inkster said. “So it’s great for us. Everybody loves to play in front of a gallery, and the more people out here is the better for us.”
HEAD BALL COACH ENJOYS LPGA PRO-AM EXPERIENCE
Hall of Fame college football coach Steve Spurrier competed in the pro-am on Tuesday at the Coates Golf Championship Presented by R+L Carriers.
“I liked the scramble format. It goes a little faster and you don’t have to worry about three putts and that all kind of stuff. It was a really relaxing day,” Spurrier said. “I got a chance to play with Brooke Henderson and Danielle Kang and these girls can really play, can really hit and were fun to play with.”
The group finished at 11-under before play was suspended due to darkness.
“He’s awesome,” Kang said. “He’s so much fun. He’s a pretty good golfer, and he made a couple birdies all on his own. He almost had a hole-in-one. I was like so how many have you had? He’s like I had six. I was like ‘Oh, ok, no big deal.’ So I told him I had 10 so I have more than him on that one.”