Notes Wie Impressive Again

By Associated PressMay 9, 2004, 4:00 pm
04 Michelob Ultra Light OpenWILLIAMSBURG, Va. -- Michelle Wie's group was easy to find throughout the Michelob Ultra Open at Kingsmill: Just follow the huge crowds scrambling to be in position for each shot the 14-year-old made.
 
The graceful 6-foot amateur took it all in stride, largely because it has been like that for each of her 13 appearances on the LPGA Tour.
 
'Certainly really big,' she said of the crowds' size each day. 'I don't remember, but I think this is the top five of the crowds.'
 
Wie was making her third appearance on the LPGA Tour this year, playing under a sponsor's exemption, and tied for 12th at even-par 284.
 
She also was easily the biggest hitter anywhere near the top.
 
On holes where drives were measured, she averaged 290.4 yards, including a high of 297 on Sunday. The next longest hitter in the 14 players who tied for 12th or better was Annika Sorenstam: 272.9 yards.
 
Sunday, at the 491-yard, par-5 third hole, Wie hit a five iron on her second shot.
 
When asked how long her drive was, she answered: '325, they told me.'
 
Pak-ing It In
Juli Inkster was making a bid for the lead when she got to 6 under through seven holes, then bogeyed two holes in a row when she pulled both of her approaches into the rough.
 
She had two more birdies and an eagle on the back nine, but also added one more bogey and wound up finishing two shots back to Se Ri Pak.
 
Inkster, a Hall of Famer, said she glanced at the scoreboard when possible during her round, and saw that Pak had moved in front.
 
'She's a fast finisher. She usually starts off kind of plodding, kind of gets herself in the hunt. Then Sunday, she lets it all go,' she said.
 
Pak's victory was her 10th when she trailed at the start of the final round, and her third rally from a deficit of four shots. The first two came in majors, the 2001 Women's British Open and 2002 LPGA Championship.
 
Her closing 65 wasn't even her best winning finish. She shot 63 to erase a three-shot deficit against Michelle Ellis in 2002, and 64s to erase three-shot deficits to Karrie Webb and Annika Sorenstam last year.
 
Turning Point
The 15th hole was often critical during the 20-plus years the PGA Tour played at Kingsmill, and proved to be again Sunday.
 
Lorena Ochoa, playing in the final group and knowing she was trailing, said she got to the tee thinking she needed to do something dramatic.
 
'I was in my mind trying to give myself a chance to make eagle,' she said. 'I missed my driver so I was out of position and at that time, I just tried to keep up, put my head up and tried to make a birdie.'
 
Instead, she made par.
 
'I thought that was the point,' she said. 'If I would have made that birdie, get more excited and probably would have finished good.'
 
Pak, who didn't know where she stood when she played 15 a couple of groups in front of Ochoa, said birdie is a must on the 458-yard hole.
 
'I think 15 is key. You can make (an) easy birdie there,' she said.
 
Hall-Bound
Pak is the second-youngest qualifier for the LPGA Hall of Fame under the new points format established in February 1999.
 
The only player younger, according to the LPGA? Karrie Webb, who was 25 years, 7 months and two days when she qualified by winning the U.S. Women's Open in 2000.
 
Pak is 26 years, 7 months and 11 days old.
 
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    What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

    Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

    Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

    Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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    Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

    By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

    Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

    While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

    The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

    So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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    Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

    By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

    The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

    As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

    Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

    And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

    And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

    McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

    The Ryder Cup topped his list.

    Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

    When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

    “Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”



    McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

    Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

    “The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

    European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

    And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

    The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

    Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

    And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

    Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

    The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

    The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

    More bulletin board material, too.

    Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

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    Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

    Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

    The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

    It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

    The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

    “I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

    Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.