Teen star Lydia Ko leads in Australian Open women’s golf

Updated 14 February 2013
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Teen star Lydia Ko leads in Australian Open women’s golf

CANBERRA, Australia: South Korean-born 15-year-old Lydia Ko shot a 10-under 63 yesterday to take the first-round lead in the LPGA Tour’s season-opening Women’s Australian Open.
The New Zealand-based amateur won the New Zealand Women’s Open last Sunday for her third victory in a professional tournament. Last year, Ko won the New South Wales Open in Australia to become the youngest player to win a pro tour event and the Canadian Open to become the youngest LPGA Tour winner. She also won the US Women’s Amateur.
Ko opened with a bogey on the 10th hole, birdied the next four holes and eagled the par-5 15th. She bogeyed the 16th and birdied Nos. 17-18 to make the turn at 6-under 30 at Royal Canberra. Ko added birdies on Nos. 2-4 and 6, dropped a stroke on No. 8 and closed with her 11th birdie.
“I was in a really good group to start off with,” said Ko, grouped with top-ranked Yani Tseng and Michelle Wie the first two rounds. “I was pretty nervous when I saw the draw that I was playing with two of the big names, but I mean the weather was beautiful. I think we all enjoyed our time out there.”
While still in high school, she hasn’t had time to spend in class this year due to her golf commitments.


“I’ve got the Thailand Open next week and then the New Zealand LPGA Championship,” Ko said. “After that, I will start opening books.” Colombia’s Mariajo Uribe was a stroke back while South Korea’s Jiyai Shin was two behind after a 65. Canada’s Rebecca Lee-Bentham, playing in one of the final groups of the day, Ayako Uehara of Japan and South Korea’s Lee Mi-hyang shot 66 to be tied for fourth.
Tseng, the Australian Open winner at Commonwealth in 2010 and 2011, opened with a 68 in her first tournament of the year. Wie, making her first appearance Down Under, shot a 74.
“I played very solid,” Tseng said. “I didn’t putt as good, but I’m pretty happy I shot 5 under for first round of the year.” Tseng was impressed with Ko’s maturity.
“Five under is still a good day ... but to Lydia 5 under is nothing!” she said, laughing. “I mean it was very fun to watch her play golf today.
“She still looks 15, I don’t know how she hit the ball that well. I think she pushed me up a little bit, too. ... She was on fire. She could’ve shot a 12 or 13 under today.” Stacy Lewis shot 69 and fellow American and defending champion Jessica Korda had a 70.


Others can moan but forward-thinking Wolves have used Jorge Mendes to great effect

Updated 39 min 3 sec ago
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Others can moan but forward-thinking Wolves have used Jorge Mendes to great effect

  • English club have traded cleverly to reach the Premier League
  • Star player Ruben Neves earns considerably less than John Terry

On July 8, Wolverhampton Wanderers signed Ruben Neves from FC Porto for a club record transfer fee of €16 million ($19.5 million). On July 17, Middlesbrough signed Britt Assombalonga from Nottingham Forest for a club record transfer fee reported as “more than £15 million ($21 million)."
Forty-four Championship matches later Wolves have won the division and promotion to the Premier League with their 21-year-old Portugal midfielder contributing six goals and being elected into the Professional Footballers' Association team of the year. Middlesbrough are scrambling for a playoff place with their 25-year-old DR Congo centre forward contributing 14 goals. Assombalonga just scrapes into the Championship's top ten scorers. He did not make his fellow pros' divisional best XI.
Neves is admired by Manchester United. He is envied by much of the rest of the Championship. Under-pressure owners such as Leeds United's Andrea Radrizzani have publicly complained that Wolves are owned by a company that is also a minority shareholder in the football agency that represents Neves, Gestifute.
Leeds have joined other Championship clubs in requesting that the English Football League investigates whether Fosun's relationship with Gestifute breaks the competition's rules. One of their arguments is that Gestifute principal Jorge Mendes' influence on Wolves' promotion campaign represents unfair competition.
“No club may enter into an agreement which enables any party, other than the club itself, to influence materially the club’s policies or the performance of its teams or players in matches and/or competitions,” read a draft letter to the EFL published last month by an English newspaper. “Given the broad interpretation of ‘agreement’ in the FA’s regulations, which can be any ‘agreement, arrangement, obligation, undertaking or understanding whether oral or written, formal or informal or otherwise’, I would invite the FA and EFL to consider whether Mr Mendes does indeed materially influence Wolves’s policies or the performance of its teams or players in matches and/or competition.”
Mendes advised Fosun on their July 2016 takeover of Wolves. The agent advised on the appointment of coaches, initially moving to secure Julen Lopetegui before the Spaniard was offered his national team's top job, and last summer securing Nuno Espirito Santo. And Mendes has worked on some (by no means all) of the transfers with which Wolves built a promotion-winning squad.
All of this is by no means unusual in the world of football. Mendes is recognised as one of the most successful individuals in his profession. His clients including Cristiano Ronaldo and Jose Mourinho, winners of FIFA's world player and coach of the year awards.
The Portuguese agent works with multiple clubs, and has a history of advising owners on the recruitment of multiple key individuals. He helped Chelsea secure more than one Premier League title by bringing Mourinho to the club and following it up with the transfers of players such as Ricardo Carvalho, Paulo Ferreira, Deco, Jose Bosingwa and Diego Costa. His work with Atletico Madrid, Real Madrid and Monaco led to domestic and European success.
For Mendes, the Wolverhampton project falls into a similar category. The idea is to place a coach and footballers in an environment where they can demonstrate their talent and develop their careers. Having owners that buy into this plan allows someone like Neves, who played just 626 minutes of league football in his final season at Porto and was rejected as a transfer option by a number of Premier League and Championship clubs, the platform to rapidly develop into one of the division's most decisive performers.
The approach is logical, intelligent and long-term. It has benefited both the clubs who sign Gestifute players and the players who ask Gestifute to represent them. And at Wolves it has allowed the club to build a team capable of holding Manchester City to a goalless draw on the Premier League champions' own ground then reaching the top tier itself on a controlled budget.
Neves was paid a net wage of €12,500 a month by Porto. At Wolves his remuneration has been greatly improved yet still falls below the club's top wage of £25,000 a week. According to a study by the Sporting Intelligence website, the average Championship first-team salary stands at an annual £631,000. Top earners like Aston Villa's John Terry are said to be on more than three times Wolves ceiling wage.
One club has got its recruitment right and will start next season in football's most affluent league. Others clubs have not recruited as efficiently and are left complaining about an “unfair playing field."
You'd be forgiven for wondering if their energies (and transfer budgets) would be better spent elsewhere.