All Signs Point Toward Wie Turning Pro

By Associated PressSeptember 20, 2005, 4:00 pm
All signs point toward Michelle Wie turning pro in time for the Samsung World Championship next month, which begins just a couple of days after her 16th birthday.
The tournament will be Wies final LPGA Tour event of the year. Still, her father remained guarded about his daughters future plans.
Everyone seems to know what Im doing, B.J. Wie said last week from his office at the University of Hawaii. Nothing is firmed up. I have not made any decisions. Were still working on a number of things.
Golf World magazine, citing a source involved in ongoing endorsement negotiations who requested anonymity, reported on its Web site Tuesday night that Wie will declare herself a pro before the end of the month to minimize distractions in her pro debut.
B.J. Wie did not immediately return a telephone call Tuesday seeking comment on the report.
His daughter turns 16 on Oct. 11, two days before the start of the tournament in Palm Desert, Calif.
She is not expected to petition LPGA commissioner Carolyn Bivens to waive the tours age requirement of 18, but will take six sponsors exemptions on the Tour, plus whatever she can get on the PGA Tour, and in Europe (men and women) and Asia (men and women).
Had she taken prize money this year, Wie would have earned $640,870, enough to be 12th on the LPGA money list in just seven tournaments.
The junior at Punahou School in Honolulu still holds to her dream of playing on the PGA Tour one day, but her father said her first priority is to become an LPGA Tour member.
Michelle will not bypass the LPGA, her father said. She will never use the LPGA as a training ground. She will play continuously on the LPGA. At some time, she will try to get her PGA card through the seven maximum exemptions, or if that doesnt work out, go through qualifying. But we dont know when that time will be.
He said he is still poring through offers from management agencies, potential endorsements and trying to figure out her best path, but appears to be moving cautiously.
Theres so many things to take care of, Wie said. Im just an ordinary professor. Im trying to be conservative. If I made a mistake, and she finds out I made a mistake, shell blame me forever.
Tiger Woods no longer has to share one record with Tom Watson.
With seven weeks left in the season, Woods has clinched PGA Player of the Year, a points-based award handed out by the PGA of America since 1948.
It was the seventh time in nine years Woods has won the award. Watson won it six times during an eight-year span.
The PGA Player of the Year award gives 30 points for majors, 20 points for The Players Championship and 10 points for all other PGA Tour victories. It also awards as many as 20 points depending on where a player finishing on the money list and in scoring average.
Woods cannot be caught because he won two majors, which carries a 50-point bonus.
The only other players to win the award since Woods' first full season in 1997 were Mark O'Meara, a double major winner in 1998; and Vijay Singh, who won the PGA Championship and eight other tournaments last year.
The PGA Tour's award is a vote of the players and will be decided after the Tour Championship.
Mike Donald missed a 10-foot par putt to win the 1990 U.S. Open. Bob May was on the cusp of winning the 2000 PGA Championship until Tiger Woods made a 6-foot birdie, then beat him in a playoff. No one will forget Jean Van de Velde's triple bogey on the last hole at Carnoustie in '99 British Open.
None of those players ever won again.
That's what makes the leaderboard at the U.S. Open this year so intriguing. Jason Gore was three shots out of the lead and playing in the final group, but stumbled to an 84. Olin Browne also was three shots behind, and he shot 80.
Instead of disappearing, both are headed to Kapalua for the winners-only Mercedes Championships -- Browne by winning the Deutsche Bank Championship two weeks ago, Gore by winning the 84 Lumber Classic on Sunday.
The other guy at Pinehurst -- two-time U.S. Open champion Retief Goosen -- shot 81 to blow a three-shot lead. He recovered, too, not only by winning the International, but winning twice more overseas.
Ryan Moore was running out exemptions. Now he's closing in on a PGA Tour card.
The former U.S. Amateur champion showed all it takes is a few good weeks to avoid Q-school. He tied for second in the Canadian Open, then tied for 17th at the 84 Lumber Classic. That pushed his earnings to $512,900, allowing him unlimited exemptions the rest of the year.
Moore is playing this week in the Texas Open, his seventh start since turning pro. His money is equivalent to No. 123 on the PGA Tour money list, and he only has to finish equal to 125th or better at the end of the year to earn exempt status next year. The last American to earn his PGA Tour card without ever going to Q-school was Tiger Woods.
International captain Gary Player had asked Ernie Els to come to Virginia for the Presidents Cup, but the Big Easy is staying home in London to continue physical therapy from knee surgery in August. ... Bob Panasik, for years the answer to the trivia question as the youngest player to make the cut on the PGA Tour, was inducted into the Canadian Golf Hall of Fame over the weekend. Panasik was 15 when he made the cut in the 1957 Canadian Open. He won national title at all levels -- the Canadian Junior, two Canadian PGA Championships and three Canadian Senior PGAs. ... U.S. Women's Open runner-up Morgan Pressel takes her first step this week toward the LPGA Tour. She will be in the first stage of qualifying at Mission Hills, site of the Kraft Nabisco Championship. The top 30 advance to the final stage of Q-school.
Of the 60 players who have competed in the Presidents Cup since its inception in 1994, Mark Brooks is the only player to have never earned a point.
``It was hard after Solheim. Everybody wants to go drink and I'm designated driver.'' -- Paula Creamer, on the limitations of being a 19-year-old rookie on the LPGA Tour.
Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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Fleetwood flawless en route to Abu Dhabi lead

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 2:06 pm

New year, same results for Tommy Fleetwood.

The reigning Race to Dubai champ picked up where he left off in the opening round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, carding a bogey-free 66 during which the Englishman found all 18 greens in regulation. At 6 under, he shares the lead with Japan's Hideto Tanihara and sits one shot clear of five other players.

"Very stress-free. Played really well from start to finish," Fleetwood said. "Felt like I did what you need to do around this golf course, which is drive it well, hit your irons solid. You can't really be too greedy a lot of the time, and then sort of my pace putting was really good. So basically just did what you need to do to get a good score around this golf course, and I got one."

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

Fleetwood shined in a marquee grouping that included world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy, as he birdied three holes on each nine. This is his first worldwide start since a T-3 finish at the Hero World Challenge.

It was at this event a year ago that Fleetwood sparked a career campaign, edging Johnson and Pablo Larrazabal for the win. He added another win at the French Open in the summer to go along with a pair of runner-up results and a T-4 finish at the U.S. Open, all of which helped him capture the European Tour's season-long title.

Fleetwood's sudden success in Abu Dhabi serves as a microcosm for his career resurgence. Prior to last year's victory, he had missed the cut in four of his five other trips to this event.

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Sergio starts season with 66 in Singapore

By Associated PressJanuary 18, 2018, 12:56 pm

SINGAPORE – Sergio Garcia opened his season with a 5-under 66 and a share of the clubhouse lead on Thursday in the first round of the weather-interrupted Singapore Open.

Playing his first tournament of the year, the Masters champion rebounded after making an early bogey to collect four birdies and an eagle at the Sentosa Golf Club.

He was later joined by American qualifier Kurt Kitayama in the clubhouse lead. Still on the course, Tirawat Kaewsiribandit was at 6 under through 16 holes when play was suspended for the day because of the threat of lightning.

Louis Oosthuizen, the 2010 Open champion, was at 5 under through 16 holes when he also had to stop his round because of the weather.

Of the players who did finish their opening rounds, only three were within two strokes of Garcia and Kitayama. One of them was Casey O'Toole, who aced the par-3 second with a 7-iron.

The 38-year-old Garcia dropped his only shot of the day on the par-4 15th, his sixth hole after teeing off on the back nine, when he missed the fairway and was unable to make par. But he made amends when he birdied the par-3 17th and then eagled the par-5 18th to go out in 33.

''I was 1 over after (the) seventh but it didn't feel like I was playing badly,'' said Garcia, who made birdies on each of the two par 5s and one of the par 3s on the second nine. ''But then I hit two greats in a row for holes 17 and 18. I got a birdie-eagle there, so that settled me a little bit and I could play solid in the back nine and it was a great round.''

Garcia made the shortlist for the Laureus Sports Awards in the Breakthrough of the Year category after claiming his first major at Augusta National last year and is hoping for more success this season.

He credits the Singapore Open as having played a part in toughening him up for his Masters win because he opted to start his 2017 campaign in the stifling humidity of Southeast Asia to prepare himself for the bigger tournaments ahead.

Although he finished tied for 11th in Singapore, Garcia won the Dubai Desert Classic the next week and was in peak form when he won the Masters two months later.

Kitayama only secured his place in the $1 million event on Monday by finishing at the top of the qualifying competition, but he made a strong start with birdies on three of his first five holes. The 25-year-old Thai was 6 under through 13 holes but spoiled his otherwise flawless round with a bogey on his last.

''I started with a birdie and I just let it roll from there. I had some good tee shots, which I think, is the biggest thing for this course,'' Kitayama said. ''I'm a little tired, but I'm hanging in there. Whenever I have time off, I'll try not to think too much about golf.''

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13-year-old beats DJ in closest-to-the-pin contest

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 18, 2018, 12:26 pm

Dustin Johnson didn’t just get beat by Tommy Fleetwood and Rory McIlroy on Day 1 of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

Even a 13-year-old got the best of the world No. 1.

Oscar Murphy teed off on the 177-yard 15th hole as part of the tournament’s Beat the Pro challenge during the opening round. The Northern Irishman, one of the HSBC’s Future Falcons, carved a 3-wood toward a back-right pin, about 25 feet away, closer than both Johnson and Fleetwood.

“An unbelievable shot,” Fleetwood said afterward, “and me and Rory both said, ‘We don’t have that in our locker.’”

Johnson still made par on the hole, but he mixed four birdies with four bogeys Thursday for an even-par 72 that left him six shots back of Fleetwood and Hideto Tanihara after the opening round.

Johnson, who tied for second here a year ago, is coming off a dominant performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, where he won by eight shots to strengthen his lead atop the world rankings. 

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McIlroy 'really pleased' with opening 69 in Abu Dhabi

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 18, 2018, 12:10 pm

It was an auspicious 2018 debut for Rory McIlroy.

Playing alongside world No. 1 Dustin Johnson for his first round since October, McIlroy missed only one green and shot a bogey-free 69 at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. McIlroy is three shots back of reigning Race to Dubai champion Tommy Fleetwood, who played in the same group as McIlroy and Johnson, and Hideto Tanihara.

Starting on the back nine at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, McIlroy began with 11 consecutive pars before birdies on Nos. 3, 7 and 8.

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

“I was excited to get going,” he told reporters afterward. “The last couple of months have been really nice in terms of being able to concentrate on things I needed to work on in my game and health-wise. I feel like I’m the most prepared for a season that I’ve ever been, but it was nice to get back out there.”

Fleetwood, the defending champion, raced out to another lead while McIlroy and Johnson, who shot 72, just tried to keep pace.

“Tommy played very well and I was just trying to hang onto his coattails for most of the round, so really pleased – bogey-free 69, I can’t really complain,” McIlroy said.

This was his first competitive round in more than three months, since a tie for 63rd at the Dunhill Links. He is outside the top 10 in the world ranking for the first time since 2014.