Morgan Pressel raises $1 million for charity with help from Lydia Ko
By Steve Waters
BOCA RATON, Fla. – As always, Morgan Pressel had a number of her fellow LPGA Tour stars take part in Monday's ninth annual Morgan and Friends Fight Cancer Tournament at St. Andrews Country Club.
But joining regulars such as Paula Creamer, Cristie Kerr and Brittany Lincicome was superstar Lydia Ko, the world's No. 1 female golfer.
Her presence here for the first time no doubt helped the event raise a record $1 million for the Morgan Pressel Foundation, which will fund cancer research and a mobile unit that provides affordable breast exams to those who might not otherwise get them.
A number like that is par for the course for Ko.
The South Korean-born New Zealander won five tournaments in 2015, including her first major, and was the LPGA's leading money winner with $2.8 million as well as the Rolex Player of the Year.
"It was an unbelievable year," said the 18-year-old, who surpassed Pressel by six months to become the youngest to win a major when she won the Evian Championship in September.
"It's a year I wouldn't want anybody to take away from me. My first major, player of the year ... it was a fun year. I have so much fun out there and the other players are so warm and welcoming."
After achieving so much, Ko enjoyed a break from golf, taking off the entire month of December to do things she didn't have a chance to do during the season, such as attending several concerts in South Korea and taking a trip with her best friends.
She started practicing after New Year's and was excited that she could take part in her first Morgan & Friends.
So was Pressel, who had Annika Sorenstam at last year's event. In Ko, she could very well have a golfer who will break many of Sorenstam's records.
"She's an incredible kid," Pressel said. "It was really cool that she could come, especially after the exceptional year that she had again last year. Everybody here was pretty excited that she was coming. It's a big deal."
"I don't get to do a lot of things like this, that's why I wanted to be a part of it," Ko said. "I know how much this event means to her. I know how much she's done for breast cancer and to bring more awareness to breast cancer.
"All the girls just enjoy it. I met a few of the people that are here and they're all so friendly and so enthusiastic. It's a blast for them and for us."
Looking ahead to the 2016 season, Ko said she doesn't set specific goals such as winning a certain number of tournaments. Instead, she'll try to accomplish things like hitting more greens in regulation.
But there is one thing she'd like to do this year.
"Playing in the Olympics is definitely a big goal," said Ko, who should be a shoo-in to compete for New Zealand as golf returns to the Summer Games in Brazil.
As for Pressel, who said she didn't like how her 2015 season ended – her best finish in her final five events was a tie for 25th place – she plans to improve her game and her results in 2016.
"There's a lot to work on and hopefully this year can be better," Pressel said. "Even with a good year, you always look back at things you can improve on."
Pressel said she had trouble hitting fairways in 2015 and her emphasis on fixing that part of her game hurt other parts.
"Last year I didn't feel as comfortable off the tee as I should have, as I have in the past," she said. "I spent a lot of time working on my long game, and my short game at the end of the season wasn't as good as it's been in the past, but it's because I was focusing so much on my long game.
"That's just the nature of the silly game of golf. From one day to the next, you never know."
This article was written by Steve Waters from Sun Sentinel and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.