Older Wiser Wie a Work in Progress

By Associated PressOctober 11, 2006, 4:00 pm
2006 Samsung World ChampionshipPALM DESERT, Calif. -- Michelle Wie celebrated her 17th birthday Wednesday. Next up is an anniversary.
One year ago at the Samsung World Championship, the 6-foot teenager from Hawaii steadied her nerves and ripped a 3-wood down the middle of the fairway to embark on a professional career that was loaded with expectations and perhaps more hype than any player in LPGA Tour history.
Michelle Wie
Michelle Wie was eventually disqualified from last year's Samsung because of this improper drop.
Expectations remain high. The scrutiny is still severe.
And one year later, the trophy case remains bare.
'Every week I go into, I want to win,' Wie said at Bighorn Golf Club, where her family has bought a second home. 'I'm not going to force it to happen, because it will happen.'
But with each tournament -- 14 as a pro, plus a U.S. Open qualifier -- the question of 'when' slowly is shifting to 'if.'
Strangely enough, the Samsung World Championship with its 20-player field and no cut is the only LPGA Tour event where Wie failed to earn a paycheck. She finished in fourth place, 10 shots behind Annika Sorenstam, but an improper drop in the third round that was pointed out a day later led to Wie being disqualified.
Memories are mixed at Bighorn given a rocky start to her career.
And even her first full year as a pro is bound to get mixed reviews. Wie has played only seven LPGA Tour events this year because she is not a tour member, yet she has earned $718,343, which would put her at No. 14 on the money list. Karrie Webb, Sorenstam and Wie are the only players to average more than $100,000 per start this year.
Despite not winning, Wie came within a whisker of capturing three majors.
She had a 25-foot eagle chip to win the Kraft Nabisco, missing a playoff when she failed to get up-and-down. She was tied for the lead on the 16th hole of the LPGA Championship until her wedge found a greenside bunker leading to bogey. And she was tied at the U.S. Women's Open until making bogey on the 13th hole in the final round, closing with all pars to miss a playoff by two shots.
'I guess I'm taking it patiently,' Wie said at Bighorn Golf Club, where her family now has a second home. 'But I feel like being in contention this year, really getting the feel for what it's like to be in contention on the Sunday in a major ... I learned a lot from that. That's the way I'm learning how to win, and I feel like it's going to happen.'
What taints her year was competing against the men.
Wie rose to international acclaim as a 14-year-old player when she shot 68 in the Sony Open and missed the cut by one shot. A year later, she shot 70-71 at the John Deere Classic and narrowly made the cut.
But as a professional on the PGA Tour, she has looked more like an amateur.
An image that captured a troublesome end to her summer came at the John Deere Classic, when she withdrew after nine holes in the second round with heat exhaustion and was shown being loaded into an ambulance on a stretcher.
She tied for 26th at the Women's British Open -- her only finish outside the top 5 on the LPGA -- and fired her caddie without anyone from the Wie family breaking the news. And after starting her senior year at Punahou School in Honolulu, Wie took a two-week break to take on the end and finished both times, in the European Masters and the 84 Lumber Classic.
'I have to learn how to schedule better, how much my body can take and when I should play,' Wie said. 'My first year, I haven't got it down yet. Obviously, I learn from my mistakes.'
Perceptions of her first year as a pro depends on the size of the picture.
The most recent image is her humbling results against the men. But it is hard to ignore her close calls in three majors, along with the Fields Open in Hawaii and the Evian Masters in France.
'She has played extremely well on the LPGA Tour, and I think it's been a very good learning year for her,' Webb said. 'Even though her results may have been similar to last year, she's actually been in contention in the last round, rather than having a very good last round and finishing third or second or fourth. ... She should be very proud of the year she has had for someone so young.'
Sorenstam never played with Wie over the last 12 months, so she was hesitant to judge her first full season.
'I must say, she's been very consistent in the majors,' Sorenstam said. 'But that's all I know.'
Sorenstam made quite the statement last year at Bighorn. Her eight-shot victory was her fifth at the Samsung World Championship, and another victory this week would make her the first LPGA Tour player to capture the same event six times.
For all her stardom, Sorenstam was virtually forgotten at Bighorn last year before the tournament started.
The attention was squarely on Wie making her professional debut, and the interest was so high that tournament officials had to build a media tent on an empty lot near the clubhouse. This year, the turnout is typical for an LPGA event, with only a dozen or so reporters stationed in a small tent on the edge of the practice range.
Wie warmed up Wednesday morning for her pro-am round in virtual solitude, and only about two dozen people braved hot, arid conditions to follow her around Bighorn.
This will be her final LPGA Tour event of the year because she is limited to eight starts without becoming a member. Only one tournament remains, the Casio World Open on the Japan PGA Tour in late November.
Playing against men is still part of her future
'It's just going to be a long process for me,' Wie said. 'I'm willing to work at it. It's a lot of fun for me, so definitely, hopefully, I'm going to play a lot of men's events (next) year.'
In the meantime, she will try to fill that trophy case.
Related Links:
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    Fleetwood rallies to defend Abu Dhabi title

    By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 12:48 pm

    The 2018 European Tour season has begun just as the 2017 one ended: with Tommy Fleetwood's name atop the standings.

    Facing the most difficult conditions of the week, Fleetwood charged down the stretch to shoot a 7-under 65 in the final round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, good enough for a two-shot win and a successful title defense.

    Abu Dhabi was the start of Fleetwood's resurgence a year ago, the first of two European Tour victories en route to the season-long Race to Dubai title. This time around the Englishman started the final round two shots off the lead but rallied with six birdies over his final nine holes to reclaim the trophy.

    Fleetwood was five shots behind countryman Ross Fisher when he made the turn, but he birdied the par-5 10th and then added four birdies in a five-hole stretch from Nos. 12-16. The decisive shot came on the final hole, when his pitch from the left rough nestled within a few feet of the hole for a closing birdie.

    Fleetwood's 22-under total left him two shots ahead of Fisher and four shots clear of Rory McIlroy and Matthew Fitzpatrick. After entering the week ranked No. 18, Fleetwood is expected to move to at least No. 12 in the world when the new rankings are published.

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    Garcia cruises to five-shot win in Singapore

    By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 12:10 pm

    SINGAPORE - Sergio Garcia played 27 holes on the last day without dropping a shot to win the Singapore Open by five strokes Sunday in an ominous display of his newfound self-belief as he prepares to defend his Masters title.

    Still brimming with confidence after claiming his first major title at Augusta National last year, Garcia started his new season with a runaway victory at the Sentosa Golf Club, finishing at 14-under 270.

    Returning to the course just after dawn to complete his third round after play was suspended on Saturday because of lightning strikes, Garcia finished his last nine holes in 4 under for a round of 66 to take a one-shot lead into the final round.

    With organizers desperate to avert the constant threat of more bad weather and finish the tournament on time, Garcia promptly returned to the first tee shortly after and fired a flawless 3-under 68, cruising to victory with 10 straight pars as his rivals floundered in the stifling humidity.

    ''It may have looked easy, but it wasn't easy. You still have to hit a lot of good shots out there,'' Garcia said. ''It's always great to start with a win, to do it here at this golf course against a good field in Asia on conditions that weren't easy. Hopefully I can ride on this momentum.''

    Garcia's closest rivals at the end were Japan's Satoshi Kodaira (71) and South African Shaun Norris (70). Both birdied the last hole to share second spot but neither was ever close enough on the last day to challenge the leader.

    Full-field scores from the Singapore Open

    ''I could not reach Sergio. I was thinking, 12 or 13 under for the win, but he went beyond that,'' Kodaira said.

    Jazz Janewattananond (71) and his fellow Thai Danthai Bonnma (73) finished equal fourth at 8 under, earning themselves a spot in this year's British Open, while American Sean Crocker, who was given an invitation to the event after turning pro late last year, also won a place at Carnoustie by finishing in a tie for sixth.

    Garcia made just three bogeys in 72 holes and his victory provided the 38-year-old with the 33rd title of his professional career and his sixth on the Asian Tour.

    He has also won three titles in the last 12 months, including the Masters, and his game looks to be in better shape now than it was a year ago.

    He credits the Singapore Open as having played a part in toughening him up for Augusta National because of the steamy conditions and the testing stop-start nature of the tournament, which is regularly stopped because of inclement weather.

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

    "I'm extremely happy with how the week went. It was a tough day and a tough week, with the stopping and going. Fortunately, the weather held on. Still, it was hard to play 27 holes under this heat and I can't wait to get a cold shower,'' Garcia said. ''I came with some good confidence and wishing that I will play well. I hit the ball solid the whole week and didn't miss many shots.''

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    Kelly beats Monty with two-shot swing on final hole

    By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 3:21 am

    KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Jerry Kelly made an 18-foot birdie putt on the final hole, Colin Montgomerie missed a 6-footer for par and Kelly turned a one-shot deficit into a victory Saturday in the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

    After Kelly drove it well right into lava rocks on the par-4 16th, leading to bogey and giving Montgomerie the lead, Montgomerie made a mistake with his tee shot on the last, finding a fairway bunker. Montgomerie's approach went over the green and after Kelly converted his birdie, the 54-year-old Scot jammed his par putt well past the hole.

    Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship

    It was the third win on the over-50 tour for the 51-year-old Kelly, who finished tied for 14th last week at the PGA Tour's Sony Open in Honolulu. That gave him confidence as he hopped over to the Big Island for his tournament debut at Hualalai. The limited-field event includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

    Kelly closed with a 6-under 66 for a three-day total of 18-under 198. Montgomerie shot 69. David Toms shot 67 and finished two shots back, and Miguel Angel Jimenez was another stroke behind after a 66.

    Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, closed with a 70 to finish at 10 under.

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    Rahm manages frustration, two back at CareerBuilder

    By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 1:21 am

    Jon Rahm managed the winds and his frustrations Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge to give himself a chance to win his fourth worldwide title in the last year.

    Rahm’s 2-under-par 70 on the PGA West Stadium Course left him two shots off the lead going into the final round.

    “I wasn’t really dealing with the wind that much,” Rahm said of his frustrations. “I was dealing with not being as fluid as I was the last two days.”

    Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

    The world’s No. 3 ranked player opened with a 62 at La Quinta Country Club on Thursday and followed it up with a 67 on Friday at PGA West. He made six birdies and four bogeys on the Stadium Course on Saturday.

    “The first day, everything was outstanding,” Rahm said. “Yesterday, my driver was a little shaky but my irons shots were perfect. Today, my driver was shaky and my irons shots were shaky. On a course like this, it’s punishing, but luckily on the holes where I found the fairway I was able to make birdies.”

    Rahm is projected to move to No. 2 in the world rankings with a finish of sixth or better on Sunday.