02 February 16  |  Events   |  

World’s Top Professional Women Golfers Speak at Coates Golf Pro Am Championship

Lydia Ko’s new Lexus can go 80 mph. It’s powerful, smooth and really, really nice. So says the world’s top LPGA professional women’s golfer.

The 18-year-old South Korean woman, who spoke at the Coates Golf Pro Am championship at Golden Ocala Golf & Equestrian Club today, warned motorists to stay off the road – at least if they’re anywhere near the Orlando area where her mother lives.

“I got my learner’s permit,” Ko said, who was described by fellow player Stacy Lewis at an earlier press conference as so naturally humble.

With a light-hearted chuckle, Ko admitted she has never taken her new car anywhere near its potential: “It’s nice and speedy. It goes 80 mph. But I go 30 mph to Publix. I haven’t gone on the freeway yet.”

When asked during her press conference, the world champion golfer said she got a ride to this week’s championship, eliciting a light-hearted sigh of relief from some.

Ko and others spent parts of the day playing with amateur players – like former University of Florida football coach Steve Spurrier – as part of the LPGA’s Pro Am games. Ko said she enjoyed the conversations she had with players. “It’s great with the Pro Am. It’s like saying, ‘What do you do? Where are you from?’”

Ko, who just finished an LPGA tournament in the Bahamas, said she likes stepping outside the busy world of professional golf occasionally. “It’s good to get away from this,” she said. “At home I like to shut it down and watch TV.”

Ko and the other world champion players said Golden Ocala’s world-class 18-hole course complete with tribute holes from famous courses around the world is both beautiful and challenging. “It’s a tough course. The course is unique with the replicate holes. I’ve never played Augusta.”

Lewis, however, was more emphatic in her description of the course. “This golf course is hard. You have to hook irons.”

Lewis said she was surprised with the course’s condition and feel. “The course is in such great shape. We were all pleasantly surprised when we came here.”

On her personal challenges, Lewis said her performance at Golden Ocala will be key to her success this 2016 season. She said she’s been asked about her recent second-play wins and how they fit into the larger picture of her career goals.

“Nine second-place wins is still better than nine third-place winners,” said the 30-year-old from Toledo, Ohio.

Lewis said the competition in women’s professional golf is intensifying. “There are lots of young players. It’s extremely hard to win. That is playing golf.”

LPGA professional Julie Inkster praised organizers of the Coates Golf Championship, which is being presented by R+L Carriers. “I really feel like they (Randy and Mollie Coates of Coates Golf) made this into a family event. They decided to take the ball and run with it.”

The professional golfers said they enjoyed playing at Golden Ocala and experiencing the Ocala area.

“I love the golfing,” Inkster said. “And I just love the horse country. I drove around looking at the country.”

“I think it’s cool,” Ko said. “There are a lot of horses.”

Coates Pro Am Professional Players

The LPGA’s first round of play begins Wednesday and continues throughout the day. The Coates Golf Experience is 12 – 2 p.m. on Golden Ocala’s driving range.

The tournament continues Thursday. The Coates Golf Experience is 12 – 2 p.m. on Golden Ocala’s driving range.

The third round of play continues all Friday. The Coates Golf Experience is 12 – 2 p.m. on Golden Ocala’s driving range.

The final round is Saturday. The LPGA Junior Clinic is 1:30 – 2:30 p.m. with The Golf Channel coverage expected between 3 – 5 p.m. The Coates Golf Experience is 12 – 2 p.m. on Golden Ocala’s driving range. The awards ceremony is scheduled to follow play on the 18th green.

Tickets are still available: Single-day grounds tickets are $15. Weekly grounds tickets are $45. Single-day Craft Beer Garden is $25. A Weekly Craft Beer Garden ticket is $65. Ticket packages for the championship are available online.

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