Ko in good company with Espy nomination
Lydia Ko will again rub shoulders with some of the biggest names in American sports after receiving two nominations for the 2016 Espy Awards.
Arguably the highest profile sporting awards ceremony in the United States, this year’s list of nominees includes the likes of NBA leading duo LeBron James and Steph Curry, NFL MVP Cam Newton and MLB star Bryce Harper.
Ko has been nominated for both the Best Female Golfer and Best International Athlete after a sensational past 12 months which saw the 19-year-old Kiwi win backto-back majors and reach No 1 in the world rankings. On Monday, she won her third LPGA tournament this season, and 13th in total, with a three-shot victory at the Arkansas Championship.
Ko won the Best Female Golfer of the majors or an Olympic medal? I don’t know exactly. Most of the Olympic sports have their ‘big event’ once every four years with the World Cups and world championships that go on.
‘‘In the golf world, we have our four majors – then every other week there is a big event going on with major attention. The fact that we have an event every week, the Olympics will be another event.’’
US health officials have concluded that Zika infections in pregnant women can cause microcephaly, a birth defect marked by small head size that can lead to severe developmental problems in babies.
The World Health Organisation has said there is strong scientific consensus that Zika can also cause Guillain-Barre, a rare neurological syndrome that causes temporary paralysis in adults.
For women golfers, national pride and greater recognition on a global stage appear to be driving forces as they prepare for the Rio Summer Games. With the men, award last year but faces stiff competition from fellow nominees Brooke Henderson, Inbee Park and Ariya Jutanugarn.
The competition is even tougher in the international category, with football superstars Cristiano Ronaldo and Luis Suarez, men’s tennis world No 1 Novak Djokovic and middleweight boxing champion Canelo Alvarez all nominated.
Ko isn’t the only Kiwi to be recognised, with reigning IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon nominated for Best Driver alongside Lewis Hamilton, Kyle Busch, Erica Enders-Stevens and Alexander Rossi.
Dixon won three races in 2015 to claim his fourth overall title and is currently fourth in this year’s standings.
The glitzy ceremony takes place in Los Angeles on July 13. however, Olympic motivation does not seem to be anywhere near as high.
A significant difference between men and women relates to their respective 2016 schedules for the biggest golf events.
On the PGA Tour, the last three majors have been crammed into a hectic seven-week span from midJune until late-July because of the Olympics, a prime reason for Australia’s 2013 Masters champion Adam Scott saying no to Rio.
In contrast, the women’s majors have been generously spread out with the first in April, another earlier this month, two more in July and the final one of the season to be held in mid-September.
‘‘It seemed right to take a break [around the Olympics] for the players,’’ said LPGA commissioner Mike Whan. ‘‘It’s an exciting time for us. I have yet to meet somebody in player dining who wasn’t trying to figure out if they were going to make it on their country’s team in Rio.’’