Lydia Ko, 2013 Season Starts at Australia Amateur Championships.

Lydia Ko / Canadian Open Trophy with Royal Canadian Mounties /cbssports.com

Lydia Ko the New Zealand World Number One Amateur player, and winner of last years LPGA Tour Canadian Open, starts her 2013 season off at the Australia Amateur Championships, in Melbourne tomorrow. Lydia is the defending Champion.

The 15-year-old New Zealand sportswoman of the year candidate, and world’s leading female amateur, has not played a tournament since the Swinging Skirts Ladies World Masters in Taipei early last December. But according to her coach, Guy Wilson, the director of instruction at the New Zealand Institute of Golf, Lydia has been hard at it and not relaxing too much;

” The only reason she got a day off on Christmas Day was because the courses were closed. She had New Year’s Day off as well, otherwise there’s been no real relaxing, it’s been eight hours a day, seven days a week.”

Lydia has received funding from High Performance Sport New Zealand, it amounts to $230,000 NZ over the next two years. This cash injection makes it easier for her to participate in some of the  prestigious tournaments in the United States and Europe. Coach Wilson is delighted;

“She will play in all the Majors this year.”

He also stated that Lydia was looking forward to the challenges this year, and remaining the Ladies World Number One Amateur, but importantly continuing her education at her chosen college in the United States;

“It’s all important for her to continue to be the world No.1 amateur and have really good finishes so when she does turn pro she is as marketable as she is now. The good thing is she’s playing in a lot more events with real profile, which should help her as well.” 

Good Luck Lydia, we will be watching you !!!

 

Asian Tour, Thailand Golf Championship. Lee Westwood the Asian Specialist

Lee Westwood/ asiantour.com

The top contender this week  the top at the US$1 million Thailand Golf Championship staged at the Amata Spring Country Club, is Asian specialist Lee Westwood. Lee is known around the world as an Asian specialist  because of his record of multiple victories around the region including the 2011 Thailand Golf Championship, where he romped home to a seven-shot win over South African Charl Schwartzel. During that week, Lee also flirted with the magical score of 59, just missing the mark by one stroke, in the opening round. He is in fine form this season, winning the CIMB Niaga Indonesian Masters on the Asian Tour following a third place result at The Masters. Lee has missed only one cut this season, and enjoys a World Ranking of  6th.

Bubba Watson will bring his own specialist style of golf to challenge the Championship at Amata Spring. Bubba is the reigning Masters Champion, and well-known for his extra long drives on the PGA Tour, where he averages over 315 yards. Bubba also has four top ten finishes this year in the U.S. and is determined to set his sights on victory here in Asia.

Gaganjeet Bhullar, currently fourth on the Asian Tour of Merit,is a young Indian player who has had a wonderful run of results on the Asian Tour, winning twice, and also finished tied 10th at the CIMB classic in Malaysia. Gaganjeet has a mathematical chance of toppling Thaworn Wiratchant at the top of the Order of Merit but needs a really good finish here and then again next week in Malaysia. Thaworn himself  is on course to win the Asian Tour Order of Merit, standing in 1st place at the moment, this would be the second time since 2005. He has three victories on the Tour this season and is certainly enjoying a purple patch. Thaworn finished second at the King’s Cup on home soil last week and knows a big finish this week will see him creep closer towards the prestigious Merit crown.

Sergio Garcia has enjoyed a resurgence of form earning him back-to-back wins in late 2011. He won again this year on the PGA Tour, at the Wyndham Championship and also has had six other top-ten finishes. And of course Sergio also played a starring role for Europe in the Ryder Cup victory over the United States in September. His current World Ranking is 22nd and he finished in fourth spot last year in the Thailand Golf Championship. Another notable from Europe and Ryder Cup player is Nicolas Colsaerts, the Belgian is the longest driver of a golf ball on the European Tour. Nicolas had a wonderful season winning the Volvo World Matchplay, and has also amassed eleven top ten finishes, and is ranked 35th in the World.

South African Charl Schwartzel, the 2011 Masters Champion is also contesting this event, he is looking for his first win of 2012, to back up his seven top ten finishes this year. To win this year would help erase the memory of last years thrashing in the final at the hands of Lee Westwood.

This is a good field for this tournament and it should be a hotly contested affair, which will be a pleasure to watch.