Notes Wies Year A Success

By Associated PressOctober 19, 2004, 4:00 pm
Michelle Wie's season ended Sunday at the Samsung World Championship, where she tied for 13th in the elite, 20-player field at Bighorn.
Wie, who turned 15 at the start of the week, did not hoist a single trophy this year. She lost in the finals of the U.S. Women's Amateur Public Links and lost in the second round of the U.S. Women's Amateur.
Still, it would be hard to call this year a failure.
Her 68 in the Sony Open was the best score ever shot by a woman of any age on the PGA Tour, leaving her one shot shy of making the cut. She played in seven LPGA Tour events and finished in the top 20 in six of them, including fourth place at the Kraft Nabisco Championship.
Her earnings would have been about $257,931, enough to finish 43rd on the money list in just seven events. Projected over a 20-tournament schedule, Wie would have finished in the top 10.
Her next event likely will be the Sony Open in January, her second try on the PGA Tour. That doesn't mean she'll be on vacation the next two months.
'I wish I could take some time off,'' Wie said. But it's back to the books.''
Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood are among Europeans who are planning to take up membership on the PGA Tour next year.
Poulter, known more for his Union Jack pants than anything he did at Oakland Hills, wasn't even aware that his spot on the Ryder Cup team made him eligible for PGA Tour membership.
'It was a nice surprise to happen because that's what I've been working for all year round,'' Poulter said Tuesday at the Funai Classic at Disney, where he received a foreign exemption. It will be nice to come over and play as many events as I can. It's the best way to improve my world ranking and better my career.''
Westwood didn't take up PGA Tour membership when he won in New Orleans in 1998. Now, he believes playing more in America will help his chances of winning a major.
Both Englishmen work with David Leadbetter and are looking at homes at Lake Nona, where Leadbetter lives.
'It just works out perfectly that I can fly over in the winter,'' Poulter said.
Still, the Englishman has no plans to abandon the European tour, and said he would talk to other Europeans -- such as Justin Rose -- to see how to work out his schedule.
First he won the American Express in Ireland. Then he won the World Match Play Championship for a record sixth time. Suddenly, Ernie Els has a new outlook on his 2004 season.
'Three weeks ago, I was complaining about all kinds of stuff,'' Els said, referring to his four close calls in the majors. Now, I've won twice in three weeks. So, I'm definitely eating my words at the moment. It's turning out to be a great season.''
Even without a major, Els turned in a phenomenal performance on the European tour.
He wrapped up his second straight Order of Merit with his victory at Wentworth, and already has shattered the single-season record with 4,061,904 euros ($5.08 million), nearly 1 million euros better than Lee Westwood in 2000.
The 35-year-old South African played 11 times on the European tour this year, including the British Open at Royal Troon and the World Golf Championship in Ireland. He won three times (Heineken Classic, Amex, World Match Play) and never finished out of the top 10.
Tournament director Gerald Goodman says he is expecting a large yacht to dock near Tampa for the Chrysler Championship next week at Innisbrook, and he promises it won't be turned away.
'It's for Robert Allenby and his 61-foot yacht,'' Goodman said.
As for that other guy floating around on his boat, Goodman is still hopeful that Tiger Woods will play one more event before the season-ending Tour Championship. Woods was expected to play Disney, but decided not to enter for the first time in his career because he wanted to extend his honeymoon.
'We've got to think for the next few days that we're never going to have a better chance than this year,'' Goodman said. We're hoping that boat comes around here. But we've learned not to get our hopes up too high.''
Tampa will do just fine without him.
The final full-field tournament of the year already has No. 1 and No. 2 in the world (Vijay Singh and Ernie Els), Masters champion Phil Mickelson at No. 4 and defending champion Retief Goosen, who is No. 5.
Michael Allen never had to hear Donald Trump's favorite two words: You're fired.
Allen, 45, was ready to give up on his 20-year career as a tour pro when he interviewed for the job as golf director at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J., late last year. But then he tied for third at qualifying school -- the sixth time he has made it through golf's most grueling exam -- and decided to give the PGA Tour one more try.
It paid off Sunday when Allen finished second at Greensboro and earned $496,800 to secure his card for only the second time in his career. He now has $868,571, more than his career earnings coming into the season.
Allen quit after the '96 season and worked at Winged Foot, then tried construction and medical sales. Now, he gets to keep playing the PGA Tour for at least another year.
'I couldn't believe they were going to give me a half-million dollars for this,'' Allen said. Geez, what a great time.''
Annika Sorenstam has won $15,270,732 in her LPGA Tour career. Only 18 men have earned more on the PGA Tour. ... Lorena Ochoa left a birdie putt short and walked away in disgust, pursing her lips and slapping her putter. 'Good for her,'' said Dottie Pepper, offering her 'been there, done that'' perspective for NBC Sports. ... Andre Stolz at Las Vegas became the sixth Australian to win on the PGA Tour this year. Who would have guessed at the start of the season that list would not include Robert Allenby, Peter Lonard or Geoff Ogilvy?
European-born players now have gone four years without winning the European tour Order of Merit, the longest streak since it began in 1937.
'That I'm the biggest loser.'' -- Grace Park, asked what she could take away from her runner-up finish to Annika Sorenstam at the Samsung World Championship.
Copyright 2004 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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Monty grabs lead entering final round in season-opener

By Associated PressJanuary 20, 2018, 4:00 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Colin Montgomerie shot a second straight 7-under 65 to take a two-shot lead into the final round of the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

The 54-year-old Scot, a six-time winner on the over-50 tour, didn't miss a fairway on Friday and made five birdies on the back nine to reach 14 under at Hualalai.

Montgomerie has made 17 birdies through 36 holes and said he will have to continue cashing in on his opportunities.

''We know that I've got to score something similar to what I've done – 66, 67, something like that, at least,'' Montgomerie said. ''You know the competition out here is so strong that if you do play away from the pins, you'll get run over. It's tough, but hey, it's great.''

Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship

First-round co-leaders Gene Sauers and Jerry Kelly each shot 68 and were 12 under.

''I hit the ball really well. You know, all the putts that dropped yesterday didn't drop today,'' Kelly said. ''I was just short and burning edges. It was good putting again. They just didn't go in.''

David Toms was three shots back after a 66. Woody Austin, Mark Calcavecchia and Doug Garwood each shot 67 and were another shot behind.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was six shots back after a 67.

The limited-field tournament on Hawaii's Big Island includes last season's winners, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

''We've enjoyed ourselves thoroughly here,'' Montgomerie said. ''It's just a dramatic spot, isn't it? If you don't like this, well, I'm sorry, take a good look in the mirror, you know?''

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The missing link: Advice from successful tour pros

By Phil BlackmarJanuary 20, 2018, 1:24 am

Today’s topic is significant in that it underscores the direction golf is headed, a direction that has me a little concerned.

Now, more than ever, it has become the norm for PGA Tour players to put together a team to assist in all aspects of their career. These teams can typically include the player’s swing coach, mental coach, manager, workout specialist, dietician, physical therapist, short-game guru, doctor, accountant, nanny and wife. Though it often concerns me the player may be missing out when others are making decisions for them, that is not the topic.

I want to talk about what most players seem to be inexplicably leaving off their teams.

One of the things that separates great players from the rest of the pack – other than talent – is the great player’s ability to routinely stay comfortable and play with focus and clarity in all situations. Though innate to many, this skill is trainable and can be learned. Don’t get too excited, the details of such a plan are too long and more suited for a book than the short confines of this article.

So, if that aspect of the game is so important, where is the representative on the player’s team who has stood on the 18th tee with everything on the line? Where is the representative on the team who has experienced, over and over, what the player will be experiencing? In other words, where is the successful former tour player on the team?

You look to tennis and many players have such a person on their team. These teacher/mentors include the likes of Boris Becker, Ivan Lendl, Jimmy Connors and Brad Gilbert. Why is it not the norm in golf?

Sure, a few players have sought out the advice of Jack Nicklaus, but he’s not part of a team. The teaching ranks also include some former players like Butch Harmon and a few others. But how many teams include a player who has contended in a major, let alone won one or more?

I’m not here to argue the value and knowledge of all the other coaches who make up a player’s team. But how can the value of a successful tour professional be overlooked? If I’m going to ask someone what I should do in various situations on the course, I would prefer to include the experienced knowledge of players who have been there themselves.

This leads me to the second part of today’s message. Is there a need for the professional players to mix with professional teachers to deliver the best and most comprehensive teaching philosophy to average players? I feel there is.

Most lessons are concerned with changing the student’s swing. Often, this is done with little regard for how it feels to the student because the teacher believes the information is correct and more important than the “feels” of the student. “Stick with it until it’s comfortable” is often the message. This directive methodology was put on Twitter for public consumption a short time back:

On the other hand, the professional player is an expert at making a score and understands the intangible side of the game. The intangible side says: “Mechanics cannot stand alone in making a good player.” The intangible side understands “people feel things differently”; ask Jim Furyk to swing like Dustin Johnson, or vice versa. This means something that looks good to us may not feel right to someone else.

The intangible side lets us know that mechanics and feels must walk together in order for the player to succeed. From Ben Hogan’s book:

“What I have learned I have learned by laborious trial and error, watching a good player do something that looked right to me, stumbling across something that felt right to me, experimenting with that something to see if it helped or hindered, adopting it if it helped, refining it sometimes, discarding it if it didn’t help, sometimes discarding it later if it proved undependable in competition, experimenting continually with new ideas and old ideas and all manner of variations until I arrived at a set of fundamentals that appeared to me to be right because they accomplished a very definite purpose, a set of fundamentals which proved to me they were right because they stood up and produced under all kinds of pressure.”

Hogan beautifully described the learning process that could develop the swings of great players like DJ, Furyk, Lee Trevino, Jordan Spieth, Nicklaus, etc.

Bob Toski is still teaching. Steve Elkington is helping to bring us the insight of Jackie Burke. Hal Sutton has a beautiful teaching facility outside of Houston. And so on. Just like mechanics and feels, it’s not either-or – the best message comes from both teachers and players.

Lately, it seems the scale has swung more to one side; let us not forget the value of insights brought to us by the players who have best mastered the game.

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Woods, Rahm, Rickie, J-Day headline Torrey field

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 20, 2018, 12:47 am

Tiger Woods is set to make his 2018 debut.

Woods is still part of the final field list for next week’s Farmers Insurance Open, the headliner of a tournament that includes defending champion Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson and Jason Day.

In all, 12 of the top 26 players in the world are teeing it up at Torrey Pines.

Though Woods has won eight times at Torrey Pines, he hasn’t broken 71 in his past seven rounds there and hasn’t played all four rounds since 2013, when he won. Last year he missed the cut after rounds of 76-72, then lasted just one round in Dubai before he withdrew with back spasms.

After a fourth back surgery, Woods didn’t return to competition until last month’s Hero World Challenge, where he tied for ninth. 

Woods has committed to play both the Farmers Insurance Open and next month's Genesis Open at Riviera, which benefits his foundation. 

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Even on 'off' day, Rahm shoots 67 at CareerBuilder

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 20, 2018, 12:36 am

Jon Rahm didn’t strike the ball as purely Friday as he did during his opening round at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

He still managed a 5-under 67 that put him just one shot off the lead heading into the weekend.

“I expected myself to go to the range (this morning) and keep flushing everything like I did yesterday,” said Rahm, who shot a career-low 62 at La Quinta on Thursday. “Everything was just a little bit off. It was just one of those days.”

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

After going bogey-free on Thursday, Rahm mixed four birdies and two bogeys over his opening six holes. He managed to settle down around the turn, then made two birdies on his final three holes to move within one shot of Andrew Landry (65).

Rahm has missed only five greens through two rounds and sits at 15-under 129. 

The 23-year-old Spaniard won in Dubai to end the year and opened 2018 with a runner-up finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. He needs a top-6 finish or better this week to supplant Jordan Spieth as the No. 2 player in the world.