Feb 28

Lydia Ko threatened 59, shot 61 at New Zealand Women’s Open

Lydia Ko doesn't have her driver's license, so she can't drive 55. But she almost broke 60 on Saturday at the New Zealand Women's Open.

The 17-year-old world No. 1 shot a course-record, 11-under 61 at Clearwater Golf Club to grab the lead early on Day 2 of her national championship. The 61 tops the prior mark of 63, shot by last year's winner Mi Hyang Lee en route to the win.

Ko actually bogeyed her first hole of the day, then got started with an eagle at the par-5 second. In a 10-hole stretch from the fourth hole to the 13th, Ko made nine birdies. A birdie at the last locked up a two-day total of 13-under 131.

The New Zealand native is already a winner in 2015, taking last weekend's ISPS Handa Women's Australian Open on the LPGA Tour. She is playing in her national championship this week instead of at the LPGA's stop, the Honda LPGA Thailand. No matter the results of both events, Ko will remain No. 1 in the world.

Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

Feb 28

Brooks Koepka plays his way back into The Honda Classic

Misery makes company, so no one would have blamed Brooks Koepka for missing The Honda Classic cut as his Thursday-Friday playing partners, Rory McIlroy and Dustin Johnson, looked lost on PGA National's Champion course.

However, as McIlroy and Johnson were struggled after three-and-a-half hours of weather delays in Round 2, Koepka thrived. The Phoenix Open winner shot 6-under 64 -- the clubhouse leader for best round of the week -- to overcome an opening 78 and find his way into the weekend field.

The 24-year-old made eight birdies on the day, including one on the par-5 18th (his ninth of the day) after needing a drop when his second shot took a huge hop off the cart path. 

Koepka could have easily packed it in, drove to his nearby home and called it a week. Instead of thinking selfishly, he chose to be motivated by the people in his gallery who supported him.

“I have so many family and friends out,” he said, “that you almost don't want to let them down.”

The Florida State product who turned pro in 2012 reflected on how far he's come in such a short timeframe, knowing a younger version of himself would not have battled for a payday quite like he did on Friday.

"I couldn't have done that – I would have come back and shot around even par, a couple over today," he said. "But just to be able to grind it out is key and to never think you're out of it, I think that's really important. Like I said, great players, no matter what they shoot the day before on Thursday, they are going to come out and they are going to play well on Friday.”

Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

Feb 27

Rory McIlroy misses the cut at The Honda Classic

The bad news for Rory McIlroy is he is going to miss the cut at The Honda Classic.

The good news is he is a short drive from a weekend at home.

McIlroy shot 4-over 74 on Friday at PGA National and, at 7-over total, won't be around for the final 36 holes in his 2015 PGA Tour debut. 

"I'm pissed off," McIlroy said after the round. 

"I don't like missing cuts," he continued. "You want to be playing on the weekend, and I'm not there. Well, I'm here; I'm home. I'm not going to be playing this weekend, which is not nice."

The world No. 1, along with the late-early half of the draw at the Champion course, had to endure two weather delays on Friday -- the first for rain, the second for electrical storms in the Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. area. McIlroy only managed to play two holes before play was initially stopped at 8:23 a.m. He played another hole after the resumption of play at 10:31 a.m. However, the horn was blown again at 10:55 a.m. and did not pick back up until 12:31 p.m. Between the two stoppages, play was halted for over three-and-a-half hours. Second round play will not be completed on Friday.

McIlroy's front nine, starting on No. 10, was relatively clean, dropping two shots to par with bookend bogeys. However, three bogeys in the final four holes, starting immediately after his only birdie on the round, sent the four-time major winner home.

Given how McIlroy has been playing since last summer, the missed cut comes as a surprise. In two 2015 starts on the European Tour, he finished runner-up in the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship and won the Omega Dubai Desert Classic.

This is the 11th time McIlroy has missed the cut on the PGA Tour. However, it is the first time McIlroy has missed a PGA Tour cut since the 2013 Open Championship, ending a streak of 22 consecutive cuts made.

Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

Feb 27

Stacy Lewis in control by 3 at Honda LPGA Thailand

Stacy Lewis has a message for the golf world: She's not going anywhere.

The world No. 3 had a statement round on Friday on Day 2 of the Honda LPGA Thailand, shooting 8-under 64 at Siam Country Club to take a three-shot edge into the weekend over Amy Yang.

Lewis, who turned 30 on Feb. 17, knows this is a course where there's no room for holding pat.

"Tomorrow is just keep looking forward," Lewis said. "I did a good job of that today, of not looking at the leaderboards and what anybody behind me was doing. Just kept focusing on the next shot."

Curiously, Yang is the player who stared down Lydia Ko last weekend for the ISPS Handa Women's Australian Open at Royal Melbourne before blinking in the final four holes. Yang is playing well because she ended her 2014 season earlier than usual, in October, and recharged her batteries.

“You know, sometimes you get tired of what you’re doing,” Yang said. “I think that’s what happened to me last year. That’s why I decided to finish season earlier, too. But over the winter while I’m resting I wanted to play more golf.  Finally my mind changed and I wanted to go back there and play in contention if I can.”

Ariya Jutanugarn, who has enjoyed one of the hottest starts to the 2015 LPGA season, is tied for third at 8 under with Caroline Masson, Jenny Shin and Mirim Lee.

Inbee Park, world No. 2 and the 2013 champion and '14 runner-up in this event, trails Lewis by 14 heading into the final 36 holes.

Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

Feb 27

Honda Classic leader Herman credits Trump for push to PGA Tour

There's a good chance you hadn't heard of Jim Herman before Thursday.

The first-round leader at The Honda Classic has two top-10 finishes in his prior 75 career PGA Tour starts, with both coming in 2013. The opening 65 he shot at PGA National isn't his career low on Tour, but it is by far his best round given the conditions and competition. He's never led on the PGA Tour.

There's an even better chance you would never have heard of Jim Herman on Thursday were it not for Donald Trump.

Back in 2006, Herman had grown weary of mini-tours and Monday qualifiers, taking a job as an assistant pro at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J. It was there Trump noticed Herman and encouraged him.

“Got into a nice conversation with Donald, Mr. Trump, one day,” Herman said. “He’s like, `Why are you folding shirts and giving lessons? Why aren't you on the Tour? I've played with tour players, you're good enough.’

“I don't know, maybe something like that gives you more confidence."

Herman calls Trump's club in nearby Jupiter, Fla., his home course and wears the Trump logo on his golf shirts and bag. The reason is simple, Herman said: "He’s been influential in getting me to the Tour."

Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

Feb 26

Sergio Garcia did his best Bill Haas impression at The Honda Classic

Sergio Garcia's tee shot to the par-5 18th in Round 1 of The Honda Classic didn't go where he hoped. It went in the water.

But when Garcia, who said he played Seve-like golf last week in contention at the Northern Trust Open, came upon his ball barely submerged in the hazard up the right of the hole, he decided it was worth a whack. After putting on his waterproof gear, Garcia stepped in and took a swing. 

It was a great play for the Spaniard, who not only got the ball back in the fairway, but advanced it. He wound up making par at his ninth hole of the day, eventually shooting 2-over 72 on a difficult scoring day at PGA National.

Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

Feb 26

Yani Tseng opened Honda LPGA Thailand with 66 to share lead

Yani Tseng, nice to see you again atop a LPGA leaderboard.

Shooting an opening 6-under 66 on Thursday, Tseng shares the lead after Round 1 of the Honda LPGA Thailand with Stacy Lewis and Brittany Lang.

''Could be better, could be worse,'' said Tseng. ''I miss(ed) couple short putts, but I just tell myself to smile and let it go.''

Tseng, a five-time major winner and former No. 1, has slipped to 90th in the Rolex Rankings as she has lost her game, in part because she struggled with the pressure of the world's top ranking. However, she is now working with a new teacher, Claude Harmon III, and a new trainer, David Donatucci, in hopes of regaining her form and confidence.

“They just keep me so relaxed and believing in myself,” she said. “I know I can do it. I just need my swing good. (And when) I swing good, I just need to be mentally very tough. So I’m working on my mental (game) and trying to be tougher and tougher out there.”

If there's a place for Tseng to break through again, it's in Thailand. In seven career starts, she has two wins and has never finished outside the top seven.

“I feel like coming back here," she said, "It’s always the start of the season and I feel fresh and it gives me good energy."

Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

Feb 25

McIlroy: I want to be No. 1 ‘for as long as I can’

Rory McIlroy has every intention of being the top-ranked player in the world for a long time.

McIlroy, who enjoys a sizable edge over Bubba Watson, the No. 2 player in the Official World Golf Ranking, makes his 2015 U.S. debut on Thursday in The Honda Classic, played in his adopted American hometown. Entering his 31st consecutive week at No. 1 in the world, McIlroy is precisely where he wants to be in his career.

“It's what I've always wanted to do," he said. "I would be wasting my time if I was out there practicing as much as I do, and putting as much into it, if I didn't want to be in this position. And wasting the people's time around me, as well, that helped me get to this point.

“Of course I want to be that guy. I said it last year. Golf is waiting for someone like that to step forward, put their hand up and win the big tournaments. Yeah, this is the position I want to be in, and I want to be in it as long as I can.”

The Ulsterman, who won two seasons last year, is riding a hot streak, having finished no worse than second in his last eight European Tour starts dating back to 2014. He's already won this year at the Dubai Desert Classic and finished second to start his year at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship. Though he hasn't played in three weeks, he's not concerned about a layoff.

“People talk about momentum and talk about sort of riding it, but I think momentum and confidence are two very similar things in golf," he said Wednesday. "If you’re confident and you’ve had good performances, that confidence seems to carry on; and if you’re happy with how practice goes, then you’re obviously going to be confident going into tournaments."

Not only is McIlroy by far the best player on the planet right now, but he has a great track record at PGA National. McIlroy was a winner on the Champion course in 2012 and a playoff runner-up last year.

However, he had an embarrassing incident in this event in 2013, pulling out after eight holes in the second round with a phantom dental problem. McIlroy has come so far since then, and he views that time as part of a learning curve he's long past.

“I’m in a great position and I feel like I handle the position I’m in a lot better than I did a couple of years ago,” said McIlroy. “I’ve got more experience at it.  I’ve spent well over a year of my career at world No. 1, so I’m pretty used to it by now."

Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

Feb 25

Woods’ ex-coach Foley: ‘If he wants to,’ Woods will get game back

Tiger Woods is at a crossroads, where his personal life and professional career meet.

Woods is 39 and a father of two growing kids inching toward their formative years, sharing custody with ex-wife Elin Nordegren. He's also a 14-time major winner with 79 PGA Tour wins, an ailing back, a troubled short game and an erratic driver.

What's more important? It seems family is winning, and former coach Sean Foley is supportive.

“The golf world doesn’t want that, but he’s my friend, and to watch him with his kids, he’s easily one of the most patient fathers I have ever seen,” Foley said to the Toronto Sun.

“If you win a tournament, it feels good, but you go home and your kid takes a bee-line at you and jumps in your arms that just feels better. So I’m sure, as we all get older, we all have this kind of discussion with ourselves. And I’m sure he’s had it.”

Foley -- who started working with Woods in 2010, less than a year after his public shaming related to extramarital affairs -- said Woods is in a far better place now as a father than when they first met.

“My hat’s off to him because I think he’s seeing things for how they matter, and if that upsets the golf world, then so be it," Foley said. 

Woods announced Feb. 11 that he won't play on the PGA Tour again until his game is "tournament ready." On one hand, his agent Mark Steinberg says Woods is working hard on his game and wants to play tournaments. On the other hand, he isn't in this week's Honda Classic, just miles from his home in Jupiter, Fla.

Several of the game's legends, including Jack Nicklaus and Greg Norman, believe there's some kind of mental block keeping Woods from performing at even an adequate level. Foley sees the gap as one of desire. 

Asked if Woods will get his game back, Foley responded, “He’s Tiger Woods. If he wants to, he will. It’s that simple.”

Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

Feb 25

The 19th Hole Golf Show: Does the U.S. have the right Ryder Cup approach?

Davis Love III is the new-old 2016 U.S. Ryder Cup captain, and he's back with more knowledge, a hunger and an ear open to hearing from his future players.

Love is also the front man for a new approach to the biennial matches. The changes the PGA of America and its now-dissolved task force are good and almost universally liked. So why did it take a task force to implement common sense?

And what happens if the U.S. loses?

Be sure to subscribe to our podcast on iTunesTuneIn or Stitcher.

Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.