Notes Big Dreams for Wie

By Associated PressJuly 6, 2004, 4:00 pm
2004 U.S. WomenSOUTH HADLEY, Mass. -- Michelle Wie doesn't need a special exemption for the next U.S. Women's Open because she finished in the top 20 at Orchards Golf Club.

That doesn't mean she won't experience U.S. Open qualifying.

B.J. Wie said his daughter likely will enter the 18-hole local qualifier for the men's U.S. Open, part of the plan for the 14-year-old from Hawaii to compete more against the men next summer.
Wie, who tied for 13th place at the Orchards with 17-year-old Paula Creamer, tried to qualify for the U.S. Amateur Public Links and missed by one shot. It was her fourth time playing against the men. She previously missed the cut on the Canadian, Nationwide and PGA Tour, although her 68 at the Sony Open to miss by one shot turned heads.

Next year, she is expected to play in the Western Amateur and try the Publinx qualifying again.

'She learns a lot when she plays against the men,' said B.J. Wie, as he prepared for a 10-day break away from golf while visiting family in Los Angeles. 'The only thing she wants is to get better than she was the year before.'

The USGA took some heat for giving Wie an exemption instead of having her go through 36 holes of sectional qualifying like Creamer, Erica Blasberg and the rest of the Curtis Cup team.

What would have happened had Wie finished outside the top 20?

She might have received another exemption next year, anyway.

'The slate is wiped clean from this moment forward, ' USGA executive director David Fay said Sunday as Wie was about to start her final round. 'I hope we are in a situation where we have amateurs that, by their play, earn consideration for a special exemption.'

And what of Creamer?

The senior-to-be at Leadbetter Golf Academy tied for second and finished 13th in consecutive weeks on the LPGA Tour. That came after the field was set for the Women's Open, and Fay said Creamer's performance the last two weeks might have been considered for an exemption next year.

Alas, none of it matters. Both secured spots in the field at Cherry Hills in Denver. But the USGA made it clear that they are looking as much at amateurs as they are past major champions, such as Betsy King and Dottie Pepper.

The question for Creamer is whether she shows up at Cherry Hills as an amateur.

Her father, Paul Creamer, said she has a multitude of options that include going to Q-school in the fall but still finishing up her senior year of high school. Creamer already has taken college visits to Arizona and Arizona State, and plans more visits this fall.

USGA executive director and baseball fanatic David Fay referred to Orchards Golf Club as a late-season acquisition for the U.S. Women's Open.

Lake Merced pulled out of the rotation about the time Orchards inquired about hosting another U.S. Junior Girls. Fay knew the course because his wife is a Mount Holyoke alum, and he gave it the biggest event in women's golf.

It turned out to be a great week. The Donald Ross course was well-received and there were record crowds.

The Women's Open is scheduled to visit well-known courses such as Cherry Hills, Oakmont, Interlachen and Pebble Beach over the next several years. Where would a quaint course like the Orchards fit in?

Somewhere in the schedule, most likely.

'It is linked to the oldest women's college in America, built by a father for his daughter. It works,' Fay said. 'Given the success here, if the college invites us back, this would have to be given consideration -- unless we don't want to go to places where you have the most crowds ever and the players think it's an exceptional course.'
Dan Wilson has a unique perspective on how much Michelle Wie has matured in one year -- not just her golf at the U.S. Women's Open, but her etiquette.

Wilson caddied for Pat Hurst last week and they played final two rounds with Wie. A year ago, he was working for Danielle Ammaccapane when fireworks went off the first two days at Pumpkin Ridge. The teenager hit out of turn and her father-caddie, B.J. Wie, was accused of moving around the green as others were trying to putt.

Wilson said there was no trouble at the Orchards, and that Wie was no different than any other player.

'It was a joy to be paired with them,' he said. 'It was a totally different experience from last year.'

Wilson didn't want to talk about the incidents last year that led to B.J. Wie accusing Ammaccapane of bumping his daughter, and Ammaccapane berating Wie in the scoring tent. But he said he was a little apprehensive about the weekend pairing, and pleasantly surprised how it went.

'She was great,' he said.

Ammaccapane did not play at Orchards because she is pregnant.
Now this is how you break in a golf course.

Tom Lehman played a tournament to commemorate the opening of Arroyo Trabuco Golf Club in Mission Viejo, Calif., which he co-designed with architect Casey O'Callaghan. When he got to the 231-yard fourth hole, Lehman hit a 5-iron that looked good all the way -- a hole-in-one.

So, what does Lehman think of the hole?

'Too easy,' he told The Orange County Register. 'I need to redesign it.'
Natalie Gulbis has released her 2005 calendar that features the California blonde in swimwear, casual clothes and athletic outfits. It came out last week at the U.S. Women's Open, where she tied for 37th. Meantime, the equally fetching Paula Creamer, 17, tied for 13th and shared low amateur honors with Michelle Wie. ... Tiger Woods (7) and Retief Goosen (2) are the only players with multiple majors since 1999. On the LPGA Tour, they share the wealth. Karrie Webb has won six majors since 1999, followed by Annika Sorenstam (5), Juli Inkster (4) and Meg Mallon and Se Ri Pak with two each. ... The USGA is looking for a golf course in Britain for U.S. Open qualifying next year. Among the issues is making sure the club's membership does not discriminate against women.
Michelle Wie and Paula Creamer have played four LPGA Tour events this year. Had they not been amateurs, Wie would have earned $191,526 and Creamer would have made $190,236.
'Because I was too fat.' -- Darren Clarke, when asked why he went on a diet. Clarke has lost 44 pounds and 6 inches around his waist since September.
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    Confident Lincicome lurking after 54 holes at Founders

    By Randy SmithMarch 18, 2018, 2:45 am

    PHOENIX – Brittany Lincicome is farther back than she wanted to be going into Sunday at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup, but she’s in a good place.

    She’s keeping the momentum of her season-opening Pure Silk Bahamas Classic victory going this year.

    Her confidence is high.

    “Last year, I won in the Bahamas, but then I didn't do anything after that,” Lincicome said. “I don't even know if I had a top 10 after my win in the Bahamas. Obviously, this year, I want to be more consistent.”

    Lincicome followed up her victory in the Bahamas this year with a tie for seventh in her next start at the Honda LPGA Thailand. And now she’s right back on another leaderboard with the year’s first major championship just two weeks away. She is, by the way, a two-time winner at the ANA Inspiration.

    Missy Pederson, Lincicome’s caddie, is helping her player keep that momentum going with more focus on honing in the scoring clubs.

    “One of our major goals is being more consistent,” Pederson said. “She’s so talented, a once in a generation talent. I’m just trying to help out in how to best approach every golf course.”

    Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

    Pederson has helped Lincicome identify the clubs they’re likely to attack most with on the particular course they are playing that week, to spend more time working with those clubs in practice. It’s building confidence.

    “I know the more greens we hit, and the more chances we give ourselves, the more our chances are to be in contention,” Pederson said. “Britt is not big into stats or details, so I have to figure out how to best consolidate that information, to get us exactly where we need to be.”

    Lincicome’s growing comfort with clubs she can attack with is helping her confidence through a round.

    “I’ve most noticed consistency in her mental game, being able to handle some of the hiccups that happen over the course of a round,” Pederson said. “Whereas before, something might get under her skin, where she might say, `That’s what always happens,’ now, it’s, `All right, I know I’m good enough to get this back.’ I try to get her in positions to hit the clubs we are really hitting well right now.”

    That’s leading to a lot more birdies, fewer bogeys and more appearances on leaderboards in the start to this year.

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    Returning Park grabs 54-hole Founders lead

    By Randall MellMarch 18, 2018, 2:09 am

    PHOENIX – In the long shadows falling across Wildfire Golf Club late Saturday afternoon, Inbee Park conceded she was tempted to walk away from the game last year.

    While healing a bad back, she was tempted to put her clubs away for good and look for a second chapter for her life.

    But then . . .

    “Looking at the girls playing on TV, you think you want to be out there” Park said. “Really, I couldn't make my mind up when I was taking that break, but as soon as I'm back here, I just feel like this is where I belong.”

    In just her second start after seven months away from the LPGA, Park is playing like she never left.

    She’s atop a leaderboard at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup, looking like that’s exactly where she belongs.

    With a 9-under-par 63 Saturday, Park seized the lead going into the final round.

    At 14 under overall, she’s one shot ahead of Mariajo Uribe (67), two ahead of Ariya Jutanugarn (68) and three ahead of 54-year-old World Golf Hall of Famer Laura Davies (63) and Chella Choi (66).

    Park’s back with a hot putter.

    That’s not good news for the rest of the tour. Nobody can demoralize a field with a flat stick like Park. She’s one of the best putters the women’s game has ever seen, and on the front nine Saturday she looked as good as she ever has.

    “The front nine was scary,” said her caddie, Brad Beecher, who was on Park’s bag for her long run at world No. 1, her run of three consecutive major championship victories in 2013 and her gold medal victory at the Olympics two years ago.

    Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

    “The front nine was great . . . like 2013,” Park said.

    Park started her round on fire, going birdie-birdie-eagle-birdie-birdie. She was 6 under through five holes. She holed a wedge from 98 yards at the third hole, making the turn having taken just 10 putts. Yeah, she said, she was thinking about shooting 59.

    “But I'm still really happy with my round today,” she said.

    Park isn’t getting ahead of herself, even with this lead. She said her game isn’t quite where she wants it with the ANA Inspiration, the year’s first major championship, just two weeks away, but a victory Sunday should go a long way toward getting her there.

    Park is only 29. LPGA pros haven’t forgotten what it was like when she was dominating, when she won 14 times between 2013 and ’15.

    They haven’t forgotten how she can come back from long layoffs with an uncanny ability to pick up right where she left off.

    Park won the gold medal in Rio de Janeiro in her first start back after missing two months because of a ligament injury in her left thumb. She took eight months off after Rio and came back to win the HSBC Women’s World Championship last year in just her second start. She left the tour again in the summer with an aching back.

    “I feel like Inbee could take off a whole year or two years and come back and win every week,” said Brittany Lincicome, who is four shots behind Park. “Her game is just so consistent. She doesn't do anything flashy, but her putting is flashy.

    “She literally walks them in. It's incredible, like you know it's going in when she hits it. It's not the most orthodox looking stroke, but she can repeat it.”

    Park may not play as full a schedule as she has in the past, Beecher said, but he believes she can thrive with limited starts.

    “I think it helps her get that fight back, to get that hunger back,” Beecher said. “She knows she can play 15 events a year and still compete. There aren’t a lot of players who can do that.”

    Park enjoyed her time away last year, and how it re-energized her.

    “When I was taking the long break, I was just thinking, `I can do this life as well,’” Park said. “But I'm glad I came back out here. Obviously, days like today, that's the reason I'm playing golf.”

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    Joh on St. Patrick's ace: Go broke buying green beers

    By Randall MellMarch 18, 2018, 12:57 am

    PHOENIX – Tiffany Joh was thrilled making a run into contention to win her first LPGA title Saturday at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup, but she comically cracked that her hole-in-one might have been ill-timed.

    It came on St. Patrick’s Day.

    “This is like the worst holiday to be making a hole-in-one on,” Joh said. “You'll go broke buying everyone green beers.”

    Joh aced the fifth hole with a 5-iron from 166 yards on her way to an 8-under-par 64. It left her four shots behind the leader, Inbee Park (63).

    Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

    One of the more colorful players on tour, Joh said she made the most of her hole-in-one celebration with playing partner Jane Park.

    “First I ran and tackled Jane, then I high-fived like every single person walking to the green,” Joh said.

    Joh may be the LPGA’s resident comedian, but she faced a serious challenge on tour last year.  Fourteen months ago, she had surgery to remove a malignant melanoma. She won the LPGA’s Heather Farr Perseverance Award for the way she handled her comeback.

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    Davies, 54, still thinks she can win, dreams of HOF

    By Randall MellMarch 18, 2018, 12:22 am

    PHOENIX – Laura Davies limped around Wildfire Golf Club Saturday with an ache radiating from her left Achilles up into her calf muscle at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.

    “Every step is just misery,” Davies said after. “It’s just getting older. Don’t get old.”

    She’s 54, but she played the third round as if she were 32 again.

    That’s how old she was when she was the LPGA’s Rolex Player of the Year and won two major championships.

    With every sweet swing Saturday, Davies peeled back the years, turning back the clock.

    Rolling in a 6-foot birdie at the 17th, Davies moved into a tie for the lead with Inbee Park, a lead that wouldn’t last long with so many players still on the course when she finished. Still, with a 9-under-par 63, Davies moved into contention to try to become the oldest winner in LPGA history.

    Davies has won 20 LPGA titles, 45 Ladies European Tour titles, but she hasn’t won an LPGA event in 17 years, since taking the Wegmans Rochester International.

    Can she can surpass the mark Beth Daniel set winning at 46?

    “I still think I can win,” Davies said. “This just backs that up for me. Other people, I don’t know, they’re always asking me now when I’m going to retire. I always say I’m still playing good golf, and now here’s the proof of it.”

    Davies knows it will take a special day with the kind of final-round pressure building that she hasn’t experienced in awhile.

    Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

    “The pressure will be a lot more tomorrow,” she said. “We'll see, won’t sleep that well tonight. The good news is that I’ll probably be four or five behind by the end of the day, so the pressure won’t be there as much.”

    Davies acknowledged confidence is harder to garner, as disappointments and missed cuts pile up, but she’s holding on to her belief she can still win.

    “I said to my caddie, `Jeez, I haven't been on top of the leaderboard for a long time,’” Davies said. “That's nice, obviously, but you’ve got to stay there. That's the biggest challenge.”

    About that aching left leg, Davies was asked if it could prevent her from challenging on Sunday.

    “I’ll crawl around if I have to,” she said.

    Saturday’s 63 was Davies’ lowest round in an LPGA event since she shot 63 at the Wendy’s Championship a dozen years ago.

    While Davies is a World Golf Hall of Famer, she has been sitting just outside the qualification standard needed to get into the LPGA Hall of Fame for a long time. She needs 27 points, but she has been stuck on 25 since her last victory in ’01. A regular tour title is worth one point, a major championship is worth two points.

    Davies said she still dreams about qualifying.

    “You never know,” she said.