Notes Wie On the Web Big Four Showdown
The friend some years ago secured the domain (www.michellewie.com), meaning Wie does not have to pay off whoever might have registered it. Her father, B.J. Wie, said the friend secured as many variations as possible.
But he didn't get all of them.
Going to www.michellewiegolf.com takes viewers to TaylorMade's home page, which sends a mixed signal since Wie has an endorsement contract with Nike.
Wie's agent, Ross Berlin, sent a cease-and-desist letter to TaylorMade, but the Carlsbad, Calif.-based company said it had nothing to do with it. The site was registered by an individual, although why that person would direct viewers to TaylorMade is unclear.
It stirred memories of Cleveland Golf's campaign last year for its new driver, in which it directed customers to its slogan -- 'trajectile-dysfunction.com.' But it left the 'c' out of dysfunction. TaylorMade picked up on the error, secured the domain with the proper spelling, and posted an ad for its own driver.
It only took three weeks in 2005 until the four biggest stars played the same PGA Tour event. This year, fans probably will have to wait until the end of the West Coast swing.
Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson will be at Torrey Pines this week, but Vijay Singh and Ernie Els are at the Qatar Masters. Woods doesn't play Pebble Beach. Els won't make his PGA Tour debut until the Nissan Open, and Singh is likely to skip that event because he will have played six straight.
That means the stars won't be together for the first time until the Accenture Match Play Championship. And given the fickle nature of that format, they all won't be around for long.
For those wanting a chance to play in a PGA Tour event, it's no longer as simple as paying $400 for a Monday qualifier and trying to grab one of four spots.
Starting this year, anyone who doesn't have status on the PGA or Nationwide tours first must play a pre-qualifier to get into the Monday qualifier. The change was partly to weed out the guys who are lucky to break 90, and to bring equity to qualifiers that have to be played on two courses to accommodate everyone.
The Sony Open avoided the pre-qualifier because only 78 players signed up.
But for the Buick Invitational, which traditionally has one of the largest Monday qualifiers, 174 players were assigned to pre-qualifying last Thursday. A total of 55 players from two courses made it to the Monday qualifier, where they were joined by PGA and Nationwide players.
It allows for better quality of play. But it also could lead to a closed shop on the PGA Tour, because unproven players have to devote an entire week for a long shot. Instead of playing Monday and moving on, they have to spend an entire week in one town, paying for lodging and meals.
'I've heard both sides,' said Gerald Wong of the PGA Southern California section. 'Some guys like the idea of having four spots from one course, and the better players have a better chance of making it. Some guys don't like it, because it's more expensive to stay out there a couple of more days.'
The PGA sections run the Monday qualifiers and get money from the entry fees. Wong said he had roughly as many players as he did last year.
Andy Pazder, vice president of competition for the PGA Tour, said players pay $200 for the pre-qualifier, money that goes to the section. If they make it, they pay another $200 for the Monday qualifier, which goes to the tour. Nationwide players pay $100 for Monday qualifying, while PGA Tour players don't pay anything.
Along with the extra expense, some players might have to choose between playing a mini-tour event or giving up that week for pre-qualifying.
'We do have guys that play mini-tours and they'll try to Monday qualify four or five times,' said Henry Hughes, chief of operations for the PGA Tour. 'But they have to decide where they want to try to play.'
Hughes said the tour's research shows PGA sections will get about the same money, and the fields will be stronger. But the odds of players having a dream round to get into the PGA Tour got significantly longer.
ON THE MOVE
The company that managed the marketing of Anna Kournikova and Mia Hamm now gets to see what it can do with 23-year-old Natalie Gulbis.
Gulbis, who had been represented by Imani, has signed up with Octagon. While she hasn't won in her four years on the LPGA Tour, Gulbis earned just over $1 million to finish sixth on the money list, and she was 3-1 at the Solheim Cup.
'The main thing that excites us is she's a brand,' said Giff Breed, managing director of Octagon Golf. 'She's one of the few athletes who can transcend her sport, and that's something we do well.'
Gulbis already has her own calendar and a reality show that aired on The Golf Channel.
Laura Diaz, pregnant when she played in the Solheim Cup, gave birth to her first child, Robert Cooper Diaz, last week. ... Mike Weir tied for fifth at the Bob Hope Classic, his first top 10 on the PGA Tour since he tied for fifth at the Masters last year. ... Phil Mickelson will be honored with the Gold Tee Award, the highest honor given by the Metropolitan Golf Writers Association for outstanding career achievements. ... As expected, Chrysler has decided not to renew as title sponsor in Greensboro, N.C. ... Chad Campbell won the Bob Hope Classic at 25-under 335, the highest winning score at the Hope in 10 years. ... John Daly will play the Deutsche Players Championship in Germany, which will be held the week after the British Open.
STAT OF THE WEEK
Two courses under 7,000 yards -- Hilton Head and Westchester -- were among the top five toughest on the PGA Tour last year.
'Just like the motto on the PGA Tour -- 'These guys are good' -- well, these guys are just as good.' -- Chris DiMarco on the European tour, after winning Abu Dhabi for his first victory in four years.
Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Newsmaker of the Year: No. 1, Justin Thomas
He won a major, captured the FedExCup and was named the PGA Tour’s Player of the Year. It should come as no surprise that Justin Thomas holds the top spot on our Newsmakers list for 2017.
Thomas entered the year ranked outside the top 20, and few might have pegged him for a transcendent campaign. But he kicked off January with a win in Hawaii, added another before leaving the Aloha State and never looked back.
Thomas’ seminal moment came in August when he captured the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow for his breakthrough major title. One month after greeting Jordan Spieth behind the final green at Royal Birkdale, this time it was Thomas’ turn to have friends stick around to snap pictures with the trophy that signaled his arrival among golf’s upper echelon.
In addition to racking up the hardware – five in total, including the inaugural CJ Cup at Nine Bridges in his first start of the new wraparound season – Thomas dazzled with style. His runaway win at the Sony Open included an opening-round 59, and his third-round 63 at Erin Hills marked the first time anyone had ever shot 9 under on a U.S. Open venue.
Thomas’ consistency was rewarded at East Lake, when a runner-up finish at the Tour Championship netted him the season-long title and $10 million prize. It was in the subsequent press conference where he shared the goals list he had written into his cell phone in February, having ticked off nearly every one. It showed a dedicated attention to detail as well the tactical approach with which Thomas had steered his rapid ascent.
Heading into a new year, he’s now very clearly entrenched as one of the world’s best. And as his career progresses, it’s likely we’ll look back at 2017 as the point where Thomas first transformed great potential into eye-popping results.
Win No. 1: Title defense at the CIMB Classic
Win Nos. 2 and 3: The Hawaiian double
Record Round No. 1: 59 at the Sony Open
Record Round No. 2: 63 at the U.S. Open
Temporary Slide: Open MC makes it three in a row
Mr. Major (and win No. 4): PGA champ at Quail Hollow
Win No. 5: Dell Technologies Championship
The $10 Million Man: FedExCup champ
Biggest Win of All? Player of the Year
And One to Grow On: Wins at CJ Cup in 2017-18 season
Photo Galleries: Best of ...
Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017
GolfChannel.com counted down the top 10 Newsmakers of the Year as voted on by Golf Channel’s writers, editors, reporters and producers. Check out the list below. And click here for the full collection of articles.
Cabreras win PNC Father/Son Challenge
ORLANDO, Fla. - Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. closed with a 12-under 60 for a three-shot victory in their debut at the PNC Father/Son Challenge.
The Cabreras opened with a 59 at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club and were challenged briefly by the defending champions, David Duval and Nick Karavites, in the scramble format Sunday. The Argentines went out in 30, and they had a two-shot lead with Cabrera's son came within an inch of chipping in for eagle on the final hole.
They finished at 25-under 199 for a three-shot victory over Duval and Karavites, and Bernhard Langer and Jason Langer. The Langer team won in 2014.
Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara tied for fourth at 21 under with Jerry Pate and Wesley Pate.
Cabrera wasn't even in the field until two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange and his son, Tom Strange, had to withdraw.
Duval and his stepson went out in 28, but the Cabreras regained control by starting the back nine with back-to-back birdies, and then making birdies on the 13th, 14th and 16th. The final birdie allowed them to tie the tournament scoring record.
''This is certain my best week of the year,'' said Cabrera, the 2009 Masters champion and 2007 U.S. Open champion at Oakmont. ''To play alongside all the legends ... as well as playing alongside my son, has been the greatest week of the year.''
The popular event is for players who have won a major championship or The Players Championship. It is a scramble format both days.
In some cases, the major champions lean on the power of their sons for the distance. O'Meara said Saturday that his ''little man'' hit it 58 yards by him on the 18th. And on Sunday, Stewart Cink said son Reagan told him after outdriving him on the opening four holes, ''In this tournament I may be your son, but right now I'm your Daddy!''
Jack Nicklaus played with his grandson, G.T. They closed with a 64 and tied for 15th in the field of 20 teams.
Rose wins; Aphibarnrat earns Masters bid in Indonesia
Justin Rose continued his recent run of dominance in Indonesia, while Kiradech Aphibarnrat snagged a Masters invite with some 72nd-hole dramatics.
Rose cruised to an eight-shot victory at the Indonesian Masters, carding bookend rounds of 10-under 62 that featured a brief run at a 59 during the final round. The Englishman was the highest-ranked player in the field and he led wire-to-wire, with Thailand's Phachara Khongwatmai finishing second.
Rose closes out the year as perhaps the hottest player in the world, with top-10 finishes in each of his final 10 worldwide starts. That stretch includes three victories, as Rose also won the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open. He hasn't finished outside the top 10 in a tournament since missing the cut at the PGA Championship.
Meanwhile, it took until the final hole of the final tournament of 2017 for Aphibarnrat to secure a return to the Masters. The Thai entered the week ranked No. 56 in the world, with the top 50 in the year-end world rankings earning invites to Augusta National. Needing an eagle on the 72nd hole, Aphibarnrat got just that to snag solo fifth place.
It means that he is projected to end the year ranked No. 49, while Japan's Yusaku Miyazato - who started the week ranked No. 58 and finished alone in fourth - is projected to finish No. 50. Aphibarnrat finished T-15 in his Masters debut in 2016, while Miyazato will make his first appearance in the spring.
The results in Indonesia mean that American Peter Uihlein and South Africa's Dylan Frittelli are projected to barely miss the year-end, top-50 cutoff. Their options for Masters qualification will include winning a full-point PGA Tour event in early 2018 or cracking the top 50 by the final March 25 cutoff.