Charley Hull is just 19 and already an Order of Merit winner on the Ladies European Tour, but she has no hesitation in admitting her admiration for the 18-year-old world No1 Lydia Ko.
Along with 20-year-old American Lexi Thompson, and Canadian 17-year-old Brooke Henderson, Ko and Hull are just some of the youngsters who are changing the face of women’s golf.
Hull is currently ranked 41st in the world and ninth on the Ladies European Tour Order of Merit, having concentrated more on the LPGA Tour in the US this year where she was 48th in the Money List.
The English player is playing the Omega Dubai Ladies Masters this week and spoke of Ko in glowing terms.
“Yeah, Lydia is wicked. I like her. She’s a great kid, as well,” said Hull, who finished fifth in Dubai last year en route to becoming the No1 player on the LET.
“No, definitely, doing what she is doing that young is great. It inspires you and wants you to… not beat her, but like be as good as her.
— Dubai Ladies Masters (@OmegaDLM) December 7, 2015
“But she’s a great role model for the game. She’s a role model to people that don’t even play golf because of the way she handles herself on and off the golf course.
“Obviously, I’ve played with Lydia many times and we’ve had some great rounds. Even this year we’ve had some great rounds. She definitely inspires me to just go out there and play golf. She just enjoys it. It’s a lot of fun to be out there with her.”
Dubai is close to Hull’s heart, having secured her Rookie of the Year title here in 2013, and then her Order of Merit crown last year. Now, she is hoping to win the tournament after posting two top-10 finishes.
“I love Dubai. It’s one of my favourite places to come in the world. It’s good to be back and I can’t wait to get out there on the golf course this week because I really love this golf course and it’s just good fun,” she said.
“I love it that you have to literally aim for the buildings on this golf course. There are weeks when you aim for trees, but this week is either the corner of this building or the centre of that building. And I love the greens too.
“I’d say I have played some of my best golf this year. I have not had any wins, but I have had quite a few top-10s and played really well in America in my first year there. So, a win is missing, but hopefully, I will get it done this week.”
Paige Spiranac’s social media skills are well known. This week, she is out to prove her golf is equally good when she takes on some of the finest names in Ladies European Tour during the Omega Dubai Ladies Masters.
The 22-year-old American has had a successful college golf career, but after graduating from San Diego University, Spiranac has turned professional this year. She does not have any Tour card as yet, but has more followers on Instagram and Twitter than some of the well-established stars on the LPGA Tour.
‘golf in DUBAi’, organisers of the Dubai Ladies Masters, were impressed with her amazing connect with fans on social media and decided to offer her a sponsors’ exemption to the E500,000 season-ending championship, which starts on Wednesday at Emirates Golf Club.
It’s Spiranac’s first opportunity on the big stage to show that her iron shots are as crisp as her tweets, and the putter is hotter than her Instagram posts, and she was refreshingly honest about her chances.
Asked if he she has a goal in mind for this week, the Arizona native said: “To not throw up on the first tee is No1! I’m extremely nervous.
— Coach Lockey (@CoachLockey) December 7, 2015
“It’s my first big tournament and first time I’ve been here and first time out of the country, so it’s kind of a lot. Just trying to keep everything calm and collected. I think that’s the main goal right now.
“I don’t really know how I’m going to handle it. This is my first time in the situation, but I played college golf and I played junior golf. I’ve been in pressure situations before, but this is obviously on a bigger scale. So, hopefully, I can keep it together and do what I’m capable of doing.”
A quick look at her golfing resume, or at the videos she has posted of her shot-making skills, show Spiranac has more than just gift of the gab. And she is eager to prove it as well.
Spiranac believes her short game is her greatest strength, and it will come in very handy on a golf course she has fallen in love with.
“I played it yesterday, and I just love it. It’s in amazing shape. It’s beautiful. You get on like the eighth or 14th holes, you see the buildings in the back and you’re just like, this is amazing, like I can’t even believe I’m here,” she said.
— Joy Chakravarty (@TheJoyofGolf) December 7, 2015
“I do believe it fits my game pretty well because you can kind of hit it a little bit in places and still be fine, and I like that. I feel like my short game is probably the best part of my game and the putting, and I feel like you can make a lot of putts here. So I like that part of it too.”
Spiranac said she is aware that some players and fans will probably think she took away a place that could have gone to a more deserving player.
“I understand where they are coming from. Yes, I played golf and I’ve had good results, but when you look at my game compared to, you know, say the top players in the world, I’m not in the same league as them. They do have a right to say she’s not on the Tour, because I’m not on Tour. I just turned pro and this is all new,” said Spirnac.
“I understand where they are coming from, but I wish they could see that I’m working as hard as I can. I may make it and I may not make it. I’m just trying to focus on what I need to do to get to that next level and try not to focus on what they say too much.
“I’m pretty lucky in the sense that on social media, anyone has the ability to say whatever they want. So, I get probably 99 percent amazing comments and so much love and support from people, so that one percent of people that tend to criticise, I can’t help that, but I do understand where they are coming from.”
Bubba Watson wasn't even planning to play in the Hero Challenge. He left no doubt Sunday who was going to win.
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Watson quickly stretched his two-shot lead by making four birdies in seven holes. He was never seriously challenged, sailing home to a 6-under 66 for a three-shot victory over Patrick Reed at Albany Golf Club and a trophy from tournament host Tiger Woods.
Watson turned down his invitation a few months ago because he didn't have a passport for his newly adopted daughter, Dakota.
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