Golf Buzz

Lydia Ko
Courtesy of Callaway Golf
Lydia Ko is the second youngest member of Time Magazine's '100 Most Influential People' list for 2014.

Lydia Ko had an interesting day on Thursday. She turned 17, and shot a 68 at the Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic near San Francisco to sit tied for second after the first round. And, oh yeah, she was named to Time Magazine's 2014 list of the world's 100 most influential people.

The fast-rising star is the second youngest person on the list, behind only Malala Yousafzai, the 16-year-old torchbearer for girls' education in Pakistan. She joins pop singer Lorde as the only two New Zealanders to be selected. And she is one of only five athletes, along with tennis player Serena Williams, Seattle Seahawks defensive back Richard Sherman, basketball player Jason Collins, and soccer player Cristiano Ronaldo.

One category in which Ko has plenty of company is women – there are a record 41, from Beyonce (who played a little golf herself recently) to Hillary Clinton, on the list this year.  

GOLF BUZZ: Rickie Fowler goes on a wild ride in a stunt plane

"Lydia Ko is exceptionally talented, mature beyond her years and well liked by golf fans and competitors alike," Annika Sorenstam wrote in support of Ko. "She is responsible for sparking increased interest in our sport not just in her native South Korea and adopted homeland of New Zealand but also among juniors across the globe.

"Her early, record-breaking success brings with it incredible pressure — and she's doing a fantastic job handling the many responsibilities that accompany stardom."

Ko turned professional last fall after an unprecedented amateur creer in which she was the world's top-ranked amateur and a two-time winner on the LPGA Tour. She is already up to fourth in the Rolex Women's Rankings. 

 

April 24, 2014 - 3:21pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Peter Bevacqua, Kohki Idoki
T.J. Auclair/PGA.com
PGA of America CEO Peter Bevacqua shakes hands with 2013 Senior PGA Champion Kohki Idoki moments after Idoki hit a shot from the ninth floor of a hotel as part of 2014 Senior PGA Championship presented by KitchenAid Media Day at Harbor Shores.

"Nervous" doesn't even begin to describe just how nervous 2013 Senior PGA Champion Kohki Idoki was on Thursday afternoon.

Standing on the edge of the ninth floor at the still-under-construction Inn at Harbor Shores, Idoki prepared to hit a shot from a platform over a parking lot filled with cars, across the street, and on to the fifth tee box, fashioned as a temporary green, at Harbor Shores -- site of the 2014 Senior PGA Championship, May 22-25 -- as part of Media Day.

Getting to the ninth floor alone was terrifying, as it required a ride on an outdoor elevator -- a cage on all four sides, as well as the elevator floor. Yikes!

RELATED: Idoki's goal? Defend his title | Complete 2014 Senior PGA Championship coverage

Throughout the stunt, Idoki shook his head many times as if to say, "I can't believe I'm doing this," with the wind whipping on the cold, overcast southwest Michigan day.

The total distance of the shot? Two-hundred and 15 yards to a tiny target, about seven yards long and seven yards wide.

Idoki warmed up with a couple of swings to try and calibrate the distance, taking into account the extreme nine-story drop in elevation, along with the howling wind.

He finally settled on a utility-5 and hit the green to the delight of the 50 or so people gathered on the ninth-floor landing. You can see Idoki's shot and the reaction here:

 

 

Follow T.J. Auclair on Twitter, @tjauclair

Rickie Fowler
Red Bull
Rickie Fowler views the world from upside down.

Rickie Fowler is a self-professed daredevil by trade. He loves active sports -- as evidenced by his short-lived motocross career (which ended after he broke his foot in three places at age 15.) And he'd like to get into racing cars when his golf career winds down.

But even Rickie had to have a few butterflies in his stomach when he decided to take a ride with acrobatic ace and two-time Red Bull Air Race champion Kirby Chambliss recently over the pilot's property in Arizona.

You may need to take some Dramamine before you watch this:

 

 

 

According to the Red Bull website, Fowler "did it rocking mad steeze." I'm not exactly sure what that means, but I'm guessing it's a compliment of the highest order.

Lee Westwood

April 24 is remembered in part as the day of the creation of the Library of Congress, the opening of the Woolworth Building skyscraper in New York, the knighting of Winston Churchill and the birthdate of Snuppy, the world's first cloned dog.

But for golf fans, April 24 is more importantly the birthdays of Lee Westwood, Lydia Ko, Jonas Blixt and Jason Bohn.

To celebrate the occasion, we present this gallery of photos.

Westwood got himself a nice early birthday present last week with a victory at the Malaysian Open, snapping a two-year winless drought. Here are the final round highlights:

 

 

 

 

 

 

April 24, 2014 - 8:14am
mark.aumann's picture
Beware of snakes
FootJoy Europe/Twitter

Indiana Jones would not be amused.

According to the FootJoy Europe Twitter account, there's an unusual hazard at this week's European Tour stop: 

It doesn't say if the snakes are in the fairways, the water hazards, the rough or the bunkers. Or, most importantly, whether they're poisonous. Just be aware that there are snakes.

Oh, and 2013 was the Year of the Snake in China. So these snakes apparently don't have up-to-date calendar apps. 

Cheyenne Woods at Tampa Bay Rays game
Cheyenne Woods via Twitter
Cheyenne Woods did a great job throwing out the first pitch at the Tampa Bay Rays game on Wednesday.

The Symetra Tour is in the Tampa Bay area this week, and several of the players took advantage of the chance to attend the Minnesota Twins-Tampa Bay Rays game on Wednesday night. They were also on hand to lend their support to fellow player Cheyenne Woods, who got to throw out the ceremonial first pitch.

Tiger Woods' 23-year-old niece is quite an athlete, not to mention the reigning Australian Ladies Masters champion, so it's no surprise that she strode right up to the pitching rubber – no wimpy throwing from in front of the mound for her. She then wasted no time in twirling a textbook 12-to-6 curveball that was one of the better celebrity first pitches I've seen in a while.

You can see her toss in an Instagram video right here.

No doubt part of the reason Woods made such a great throw was because she warmed up properly beforehand, as her pal Natalie Sheary showed us in this Instagram video.

Not that we're judging or anything, but Cheyenne did a little better than Lexi Thompson did at a Miami Marlins game the other day. I'm no more a pitching coach than a swing instructor, but it looks to me like Lexi didn't quite get proper extension on her toss. Thank goodness Billy the Marlin is so nimble.  

Back in Tampa, Cheyenne also got to meet Rays pitching ace David Price, who's quite a good golfer himself. Unfortunately for the Rays, however, the Twins won the game, 6-4, in 12 innings.