PGA Tour Confidential: Tiger Woods, Barack Obama play golf, John Merrick wins Riviera

Lydia Ko
Stefan Postles / Getty Images
Lydia Ko finished in third place at the Australian Open.

LYDIA KO SPARKS KO-MANIA
Garrity: Meanwhile, a 15-year-old girl continued to draw our attention to the Antipodes. Amateur Lydia Ko finished third at the Australian Open in her attempt to win back-to-back pro tournaments (and a second LPGA title), but her brilliant play over three rounds prompted Golf Channel to go with live coverage. Is this a women's version of Tigermania? And speaking of Tiger, were his teenage feats more or less impressive than Lydia's?

Godich: I don't remember Tiger beating the professionals as a 15-year-old amateur.

Van Sickle: Ko, while a delightful player, isn't the amazing mix of power, miracle shots and thousand-watt smile that Tiger was. And let me know when she wins six straight national amateur championships, signs for $40 million when she turns pro and plays her way onto a pro tour in six events. I'll stick with Tiger on that one.

Lynch: The Ko story only echoes 'Tigermania' if the networks start to pay attention and it moves beyond just the confines of the golf world. She's beating the best in her sport, not the best in her age group, at 15. Tiger didn't do that until he was 21.

Morfit: Tiger's teen-age feats were more impressive. He won the U.S. Junior three times followed by the U.S. Amateur three times. That's almost impossible.

Bamberger: Tiger winning the three straight junior ams followed by the three straight ams makes him a legend for all time even if he never turned pro. Lydia's whole thing is very cool and amazing, but she's not even on Tiger's junior radar.

Wei: I thought it was great Golf Channel adjusted their schedule to show the live coverage. (Takes a lot to switch things up for women's golf! -- well done, Lydia!) I'm not a fan of comparing the men and the women because they're kind of different beasts. I mean, the junior and college ranks are comparable, but when you get to playing with the pros, it's a pointless exercise. Lydia's achieved more at 15 than Tiger, so I'll say she's more impressive, but again, it's like comparing apples and oranges.

Gorant: After Michelle Wie, I have decided to no longer comment on any player under 17 unless they have at least two USGA titles, can consistently drive the ball more than 330 yards, or can name every winner of the British Open, in order. But I'll offer this: she's got potential.

Ritter: Not sure if the golf world has full-blown Komania, but it's a nice start to a potentiall great story. But Tiger's feats were much more impressive because he remained at the top of the amateur game for so long, while Ko is on something like a six-month hot streak.

Walker: Tiger has the edge on teenage achievement right now, but Lydia's got four more years to catch up.

Reiterman: Whoa, there! Tigermania, like all other manias (Beatlemania, Hulkamania), transcended the game. While Lydia's play has been incredible, it's barely made a blip on the radar outside the golf world. And, no, six straight USGA titles is way more impressive than what Ko has done.

Shipnuck: Lydia is such a breath of fresh air. I don't know if she has the best swing in golf but she definitely has the best smile. And she clearly knows how to win, unlike Michelle Wie before her. I think winning three pro events by 15 is at least as impressive as Tiger's match play run. Yes, he had no margin for error, but he was competing against bankers and college kids, not hardened pros.

Tell us what you think in the comments section below: Whose teenage feats impress you more: Tiger's or Lydia's?

SHOULD KO TEE OFF AGAINST THE BOYS?
Garrity: We learned today that Ko is going to play alongside the men at the New Zealand PGA Championship. Good idea or bad idea?

Gorant: Bad idea -- express lane to loss of confidence and bad swing habits.

Bamberger: Good idea. To develop golf skill, always try to play with better players.

Van Sickle: Ko playing with men is a good idea if she wants to raise her celebrity Q-rating and increase her potential endorsement payday, as Wie did. It's a bad idea if she wants to become a better player and practice winning. We're still waiting for Wie to do that.

Ritter: As long as the decision came from Ko and not from her handlers, I say let it rip.

Lynch: The comparison with Michelle Wie doesn't hold water. Wie hadn't won anything when she started competing against men. Ko is already a proven winner. If she brings something to the event, she should go for it.

Godich: That makes absolutely no sense. Let's see her sustain this success over an extended period of time before moving up in class.

Wei: Everyone is going to bring up Michelle Wie as a case against it. I'm fine with Ko playing alongside the men. Wie and Ko are not the same person -- Ko has already won on the LPGA and LET. Playing in the Sony Open (as Michelle did) and the New Zealand pro-am event (which sounds more like an exhibition) are completely different. What Lydia is participating in is almost like Condi Rice playing at Pebble. What's the harm?

Walker: How many child stars have to fail before these parents wise up? Have Lydia's parents seen Macaulay Culkin lately?

Morfit: Why is she going to play with the men? Why doesn't she turn pro so she can play alongside the women and make some money?

Reiterman: I think Ko is getting plenty of positive attention from playing well in LPGA events. Playing against the men only invites the kind of scrutiny Wie's been living under for more than a decade now-especially since Ko said she plans on staying an am for a few years. Just let her be a kid.

Shipnuck: Sure, why not? It's not exactly the Masters. It's good for women's golf and it's good for the tourney. I don't see a downside.

Tell us what you think in the comments section below: Ko vs. the boys: Good idea or bad idea?

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