Four-Ball: Appreciating Lydia Ko and picking Phil

ByABC News
September 15, 2015, 3:12 PM

— -- Lydia Ko's victory at the Evian Championship made the 18-year-old the youngest major champion in women's golf history. Not a bad way to cap off a year in which she also demolished the mark as the youngest golfer to reach No. 1 in the world, male or female.

So why isn't she getting more accolades for her accomplishments?

And what about Phil Mickelson, at 30th on the Presidents Cup points list, getting the nod as one of Jay Haas' captain's picks?

Our scribes weigh in on those topics and more in this week's edition of Monday Four-Ball.

1. Why isn't Lydia Ko's amazing ascendancy receiving more attention?

SportsCenter anchor Jonathan Coachman: Lydia Ko is simply a low-key person who is an amazing champion. The reason she is not getting more attention is because of how she goes about her business. She is not an intense, win-at-all-costs competitor. But I think that she has something inside of her that allows her to play well every single week. But she is not a me-me-me person. And if you don't draw attention to yourself, you normally don't get it. senior golf analyst Michael Collins: A few reasons. This so-called major was contrived just two years ago and didn't come about over the test of time like other majors. It was played in France with a very small American audience. Most importantly, this win happened on the opening weekend of the NFL and second weekend of college football. senior golf writer Bob Harig: Why hasn't Jordan Spieth gotten more attention? It's golf, a niche sport that at times has trouble gaining traction. Obviously Spieth's Grand Slam run got its share of notice this summer, but women's golf has it even harder than the men's game. Some of the tournaments are not on live TV. Many are played internationally. It's simply a sad reality that remains difficult to overcome. senior golf writer Jason Sobel: There's one reason -- and it's a simple one: We've become desensitized to dominance in women's golf, even if it didn't come at such a young age for Ko's predecessors. From Annika Sorenstam to Lorena Ochoa to Yani Tseng to Inbee Park, the past two decades of LPGA golf have often offered us a single top player who's clearly better than the competition. It's not Ko's fault she doesn't get more attention. She deserves it. But the only reason she doesn't is because we too often feel like this is the fourth sequel to a story we've already read.

2. Which young golfer will win more majors -- Ko or Jordan Spieth?

Coachman: This is a very good question. I believe it will be Lydia Ko for one reason: The men's field is much deeper than the women's. On any given week there are 100 players who can win on the PGA Tour. On the LPGA Tour, there are 20 players who realistically can win. Ko is there every week, and knowing you have a chance to win is half the battle. Spieth will be a great champion but there is a reason only three players have double-digit career major titles.

Collins: Jordan Spieth. Even though Ko is so young and would seem to have more potential, the fact that she said she plans to retire at 30 means she doesn't see golf as her only career. Spieth is a golfer and only a golfer. His career will be longer overall, meaning more major chances and more major wins.

Harig: Ko. It was just a matter of time before she won a major and now it seems inevitable that she will win a bunch more. Ko is four years younger than Spieth and doesn't face the same depth of competition, which should make it marginally easier for her to win more majors.

Sobel: Ko has a four-year advantage on Spieth and, one could argue, less competition in fields that aren't as deep as those in men's majors. And yet, I'm still going with Spieth, who has shown a propensity for playing his best golf at the biggest tournaments. I do think it'll be close, though. And here's hoping that, just like Annika Sorenstam and Tiger Woods back in the day, they can forge a friendship, texting each other with bragging rights after each major victory.

3. Phil Mickelson was named a captain's pick for the Presidents Cup: Thumbs-up or thumbs-down?

Coachman: Thumbs-up. I said that not only Phil should be picked but also Tiger Woods. This is not the Ryder cup. The United States is a heavy favorite and so this becomes about getting eyeballs on a competition in South Korea. No offense, but there are only a couple of Americans that can bring eyeballs and one of those is still Mickelson. Plus, he is a great leader in the locker room and the other players will listen to him.

Collins: Thumbs-down. Someday maybe someone will explain to me how this helps develop a guy like Brooks Koepka for future team events. Phil is going to be involved, as an assistant or captain, in the years to come. Did he need a swan song in Korea? No.

Harig: Thumbs-up. I understand the angst over the pick and how a younger player might have benefited. But if you're going to have captain's picks, then you have to allow for an out-of-the-box choice. And Phil brings a lot to the table. He's popular, for one. And it's not like he's been terrible of late in team play, with a winning record at his past two Ryder Cups and the 2013 Presidents Cup. We'll see how well this idea turns out.

Sobel: Thumbs-up. From everything I've seen, this was a popular pick among Mickelson's peers and an unpopular pick among fans who wanted to see a U.S. captain move on from the status quo. The argument that the latter group continually maintains is that the younger players like Brooks Koepka or Robert Streb should be given a chance. That's faulty logic. Neither Jay Haas nor the PGA Tour (which presides over the Presidents Cup) has a dog in the fight for the Ryder Cup. They should pick the two players who can best help the U.S. win -- and maybe help generate some interest in the event, too. It's tough to argue that Mickelson won't help in both areas.

4. Name one golfer at this week's BMW Championship who will play his way into the Tour Championship.

Coachman: I love the game of Justin Thomas. I keep thinking that at some point he is going to have a breakout week. He only needs to climb five spots. I believe he can do it. But unlike at the Greenbrier, when Thomas gets to Sunday he needs to finish.

Collins: Tony Finau. Coming into the week in the 41st position, a top-10 finish should move him forward. It's ironic that a guy known for the long ball missed the cut at Deutsche Bank yet finished T-16 at Barclays, which is a shorter course. This week's course is not a bombers course, so it should fit Finau perfectly. Where's that sarcasm font?

Harig: Hunter Mahan. Sentiment suggests he should keep his streak alive of making it to every Tour Championship since the FedEx Cup playoffs format began in 2007. He is the only player to do so, and at 52nd in the standings, he has some work to do. But it's not out of the question, although he needs no worse than a top-three finish.

Sobel: Having covered both the Barclays and Deutsche Bank Championship, I saw a lot of players wandering around each venue like extras from "The Walking Dead." These guys are burned out from a season that runs way too long. So I'm going with a guy who skipped those two tourneys and should be fresh. Sergio Garcia hasn't played any tournament golf in a while -- and that alone should give him an advantage over the field.