Rose Zhang’s second win deserved more — Lydia Ko talks new Ecco golf shoes and ice cream

The IX: Basketball Wednesday with Howard Megdal, May 16, 2024

Welcome back to Golf Thursday! The Mizuho Americas Open became an instant classic last summer—with the ever-stunning views of the Manhattan skyline and the Rose Zhang rocket rise to stardom, Liberty National delivered on what just may become a staple in the women’s game (sooner rather than later). And as much as Mizuho is winning in the PR game, let’s rewind the last few days and dissect what took place just a few miles down the road in Clifton at Upper Montclair Country Club.

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It had been a bit of a slow start to the season for Zhang, with just one top-10 finish and a couple of missed cuts (including one at the first major of the season), but something had awakened in the 20-year-old golfer and nine birdies later, she was sitting comfortably atop the leaderboard after Thursday’s opening round.

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Her performance last week was more like the Rose Zhang we’d come to admire, and she showed zero signs of slowing down. It was her and Madelene Sagstrom’s tournament to lose, rather than it was anyone else’s to win.

The pair stormed ahead of the rest of the field finishing a respective 15 and 13 strokes clear of rookie Gabriela Ruffles in solo third.

The weekend’s drama had a bit of everything. Messy weather, video game-like birdie putts being made by both, exchanges of the lead, short game trickery shots, you name it and these women had it in the bag…but why did it feel like Zhang’s victory came and went?

To win a professional golf tournament at 24-under par is insane. To win twice in less than 365 days is insane. To be 20 years old finishing up a degree from Stanford University and competing on the LPGA is insane. No pun intended here, but someone please give Rose her flowers!

Perhaps it’s the post-euphoric fog of Nelly Korda’s historic run of five wins in five starts. Perhaps it was Rory McIlroy’s inevitable win at Quail Hollow (I mean who was shocked) a week before the PGA Championship at Valhalla…which also marks 10 years since his last major win…at the exact same course (occasionally, the headlines write themselves).

There’s no telling what it really could have been, but that’s nothing new in golf. A million and one things are going on all of the time in this game and it is difficult to sift through what’s “newsworthy” — you can argue the case that everything is. Nevertheless, golf media needs to continue to find parity in coverage between the tours (and players).

Korda and Zhang are the easy low-hanging fruit, when they play well everyone wants to cover it. It’s great exposure for the tour, but there’s this perpetual nagging feeling of “and what else?” Who else can enter the spotlight and take the tour to the next level?

Summer golf is here, and the season is hitting its stride. Mizuho will deliver even against a PGA Tour major, the USWO is just weeks away, and we’re counting down the days to Paris — now is the opportune time to introduce the players involved with Hana Kuma and the branding pilot program.

Get these women in front of cameras and give them platforms they feel comfortable and confident sharing on a global stage. If they want to focus on golf, great, there’s plenty on the schedule and the content will be plentiful. If they want to focus on travel or being foodies like so many of them are (based on their social media feeds), even better! Ingenuity is the name of the game, and finding new ways for these players to be presented to fans, new or old, is essential to the success of the program…and the tour.

I have a few ideas as to who I’d like to see be a part of the Hana Kuma brand-building program, but we’ll save that for another day…on to links!

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This week in women’s golf

If you have links you wish to share for Golf Thursday, sources for golf news, or want to talk about anything at all, you can email me at ! Discussion of any kind is always welcome…I mean it…MESSAGE ME!


Can Rose Zhang win back-to-back and defend her first LPGA title?

How to watch the Mizuho Americas Open

Nelly Korda’s historic winning streak comes to an end at LPGA Founders Cup

After decades-long partnership with Smucker’s ends, LPGA in search of new daycare sponsor

Michelle Wie West announces second pregnancy on ‘The Tonight Show’

LET News

Hyo Joo Kim delights home fans with clinical victory at Aramco Team Series – Korea

Field Breakdown: Amundi German Masters

Kristyna Napoleaova looking to title defend this week

After months off Alexandra Försterling is on returning to competition on home soil

Epson Tour News

Five things to know about the Copper Rock Championship

Epson Tour’s Race for the Card continues in Utah

Copper Rock Championship: Meet the tournament invites

Field Breakdown: 2024 Copper Rock Championship

Resilient Ruixin Liu earns seventh Epson Tour title

Carlisle Arizona Women’s Golf Classic tools of a winner: Ruixin Liu

NCAA/Amateur News

Everything you need to know about the 2024 NCAA Women’s Golf Championships, including TV, ticket info

LPGA rolls out new Qualifying Series exemptions for top collegiate players

Yana Wilson, winner of last year’s Mizuho junior title, will head to LPGA Q-School this summer

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Five at The IX: Lydia Ko and Ecco launch new ice-cream-inspired golf shoes

On Monday, I went to the Ecco flagship store in Soho, Manhattan to celebrate the launch of the brand’s “new flavors” collection. Taking center stage were the new golf shoe silhouettes for summer, along with player ambassadors Lydia Ko and Alison Lee.

I go to chat with Lydia about the shoes, golf trends, and of course…ice cream! Enjoy 🙂

(Author’s note: Can you spot me in this video???)

What is your favorite shoe from this new collection?

It’s the shoe I’m wearing. I think it’s the hazelnut [shoe]. I like the caramel-y [colors] and I love that all of their new shoes are inspired by flavors of ice cream. And as an ice cream lover, I will not say no to this new edition. [Laughs].

But I feel like Ecco has become more and more fashionable. Whereas before it may have been a little bit more of a performance shoe, and that is probably the biggest reason why I first started wearing these shoes years.

I’ve always dealt with calluses but have never had that problem because the leather quality is so good. So yeah, I love the new line. I really liked the the men’s pistachio color as well to be honest, I’m jealous of whoever’s gonna wear those shoes.

Hopefully, people who necessarily weren’t so interested in your standard golf shoe would be able to say hey, like those are cool. I think they will look good with my hoodie or you know, the retro look.

How important is a versatile shoe that can go from golf to 19th hole activities or like hanging out with your friends? Would you say that you’re pretty fashionable and that matters to you?

I’m not very fashionable, I would say my sister’s definitely got the gene for fashion. But yeah, for me during my off weeks, or if I play with my friends, you don’t want to take another pair of shoes especially if you don’t have a car with you. So to have shoes, especially these that’s got like the hybrid spikes, you’re not going to want to go to dinner with spikes on clanging going into the restaurant and they’re like “okay, this person clearly came off the golf course”.

And I think that’s where a lot of golf fashion is going towards it seems. And it’s just great to be able to have the option to just be able to wear your golf shoes and straight to dinner and not have to worry about oh, is this not going to go with my outfit? Or is this to like “golfy”?

I’ve always been [here] for new trends and you know I think you can never be stuck in like one [style] there’s always got to be progress and you know, it’s great to be part of a team and company that that is excited for what’s ahead and become more diverse in their shoe collections.

You mentioned trends. What’s been your favorite golf trend that’s come out in the last six months?

Six months? That’s kind of hard because I work with a clothing company from Korea, so obviously trends are different there. One of the biggest things I saw in Korea a couple of years back everybody wanted fitted pants, more the skinny jeans look, but now I think it’s more toward straight-leg pants.

I’ve got some wide-leg pants too and tucked in, I never tuck in my shirt [laughs], but tucked it [the shirt] in and pulled it out a little bit. And with the higher waist pants, my mom was like “You look so skinny”, and I liked how I felt and that it’s not gonna be too tight.

Sometimes I think women can get self-conscious when things are vacuum tight onto them. Being comfortable is the most important thing and being comfortable in your own skin. Yeah, [you] want to perform at the highest level, but you also want to feel good.

A follow-up question to that is, in this new trend of shoes where we’re seeing more sneaker-like shoes and more of the classic traditional style, what’s your personal favorite?

I actually like the street ones especially because when I am not playing golf, I just go out in those. I like to wear flat sneakers, and I have a few of the flat, casual pairs from Ecco that I wear off the golf course just as much.

I have seen more and more young people also like where Ecco shoes. Which has been great because I think sometimes people have a stereotype on what kind of brands are this kind of demographic or age group. But I think when it’s like trendy, like this, like, doesn’t matter how old you are, you know? What sex, what gender, it’s a fit for all, for everyone.

I love that! Last question for you…of all the amazing flavors of ice cream in the world. What’s your favorite?

I’m torn because I used to be a mint chocolate chip lover. And I know that’s kind of a love-hate for people because some people are like, it tastes like toothpaste. And I’m like, it’s delicious. What toothpaste tastes like this? My Colgate does not taste like this. [Laughs].

So I would say mint chocolate chip and then obviously here pistachio [holding her cup of pistachio ice cream]. It was something that my mom used to get a lot and I was like why would you get pistachio-flavored ice cream? But now that I’ve had it, it’s like it’s nutty and creamy, and when you get a good one, you know it’s good. So it has tempted me to make some on my own one day.

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Written by Howard Megdal

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