Spotlight on Wie and other rookies in SBS field

By Associated PressFebruary 11, 2009, 5:00 pm
2006 SBS OpenKAHUKU, Hawaii ' At nearly every turn at Turtle Bay, there are posters of Annika Sorenstam covered in leis, proudly celebrating the 70th of her 72 titles in her spectacular LPGA career.
 
With the 2008 SBS Open champion enjoying retirement, several youngsters are vying to make their mark, including a special class of so-called rookies.
 
The group includes Jiyai Shin, Stacy Lewis, Vicky Hurst and Michelle Wie, who was happy to be home, confident and looking for a fresh start to her career when play begins Thursday in the season-opening event.
 
These four rookies that we talk about headlining the rookie class, every single one of them feel capable of sweeping the LPGA, tour commissioner Carolyn Bivens said. Theyre fearless. Theyre not typical rookies.
 
Wie appeared relaxed during her pro-am round Wednesday, joking with her caddie, signing autographs and comfortably crushing drives like in years past.
 
I feel like its a whole new beginning for me. Its a completely new slate, Wie said. Im not going to think about the past and not even going to think too much of the future. Im just really excited for this week, for tomorrow, and Im just going to think about what I can do best for each moment.
 
While the rookies have all made a name for themselves through winning on different levels, none of them come close to having the endorsement deals, bank account and fame of Wie, who for years has been looking to add to her trophy case.
 
Wie, who first played an LPGA event at age 12, is trying to change that and said shes been working on her game constantly.
 
The games a funny thing. One day it feels really good and other days you have to work hard on it, she said. But Ive been working on it really hard So hopefully my games a lot better than it was, ever before. Im really excited to show that.
 
Wie said the rookies are all unique in their own way with different histories, but she realizes the competition is getting stiffer. She is surrounded by young up-and-coming stars.
 
The 20-year-old Shin, who was referred to by a member of the Korean media as super rookie, is coming off a phenomenal year where she became the first non-LPGA member to win three events. Shins victories include the Womens British Open and the season-ending ADT Championship. She also has 20 titles on the Korea LPGA.
 
Lewis, who turns 24 next week, is the oldest of the four rookies. The Q-school winner turned pro in June and competed in seven LPGA events. She had two top-10 finishes, including a tie for third in the U.S. Womens Open. Before turning pro, she went 5-0 in the Curtis Cup last summer and also starred at the University of Arkansas, where she won 12 events and was the 2007 NCAA champion.
 
Hurst dominated the Duramed Futures Tour last season, winning five times in 13 starts to earn rookie and player of the year honors.
 
The 18-year-old Hurst, from Melbourne, Fla., said she feels no resentment at all toward Wie.
 
I just try to stay focused with my plan and my goals and stay focused on what I want to achieve this week and this year, Hurst said. Weve all taken different paths, all the rookies this year. I think you can never say whos done it better.
 
Hurst said shes now competing on a whole new level, but shes just trying to keep the attitude that she made it here just like everyone else.
 
Im going in with an open mind, seeing how the first tournament goes and then take it from there, Hurst said. Probably previous years when I played LPGA events it was more intimidating, but now that Im out here, this is my new family.
 
The SBS marks Wies first event as a full-fledged member of the LPGA. It also is her first LPGA start since July when she was disqualified from the State Farm Classic, one shot behind going into the final round, when it was determined she left the scoring area without signing her card after the second round.
 
She also opened 2008 in Hawaii at the Fields Open, where she closed with a 6-over 78 to tie for last among the 74 players who made the cut.
 
She played the first SBS in 2005 as a 15-year-old amateur and tied for second at Turtle Bay with Cristie Kerr, two strokes behind winner Jennifer Rosales. Wie was the lone amateur in the field and the only player to shoot under par for three rounds.
 
It also was at Turtle Bay in 2006 that she became the first female to win a local qualifying tournament for the U.S. Open. She earned the first of three spots into the sectionals.
 
Then came wrist injuries in 2007 that shook her confidence and her promising game. But she ended 2008 at Q-school on a high note, where she earned her LPGA card.
 
I guess its the home factor. I just play well (here), said Wie, who grew up about an hour-drive away.
 
Besides the talented rookies, there are several seasoned veterans like 2007 champion Paula Creamer, who finished second on the money list behind top-ranked Lorena Ochoa last year after winning four events.
 
Its hard to believe. Im 22 and considered a veteran now, Creamer said.
 
Yani Tseng, the 2008 rookie of the year and LPGA Championship winner, also is entered. A year ago at Turtle Bay, Tseng was ranked 133rd in the world. Today, shes No. 2.
 
The SBS is the first of 30 events on the LPGA Tour this year, down from 34 in 2008. The loss of the four events represents nearly $10 million in prize money being erased.
 
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  • Open Qualifying Series kicks off with Aussie Open

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 21, 2017, 4:24 pm

    The 147th Open is nearly eight months away, but there are still major championship berths on the line this week in Australia.

    The Open Qualifying Series kicks off this week, a global stretch of 15 event across 10 different countries that will be responsible for filling 46 spots in next year's field at Carnoustie. The Emirates Australian Open is the first event in the series, and the top three players among the top 10 who are not otherwise exempt will punch their tickets to Scotland.

    In addition to tournament qualifying opportunities, the R&A will also conduct four final qualifying events across Great Britain and Ireland on July 3, where three spots will be available at each site.

    Here's a look at the full roster of tournaments where Open berths will be awarded:

    Emirates Australian Open (Nov. 23-26): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

    Joburg Open (Dec. 7-10): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

    SMBC Singapore Open (Jan. 18-21): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 12 and ties

    Mizuno Open (May 24-27): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 12 and ties

    HNA Open de France (June 28-July 1): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

    The National (June 28-July 1): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 12 and ties

    Dubai Duty Free Irish Open (July 5-8): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

    The Greenbrier Classic (July 5-8): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

    Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open (July 12-15): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

    John Deere Classic (July 12-15): Top player (not otherwise exempt) among top five and ties

    Stock Watch: Lexi, Justin rose or fall this week?

    By Ryan LavnerNovember 21, 2017, 2:36 pm

    Each week on GolfChannel.com, we’ll examine which players’ stocks and trends are rising and falling in the world of golf.

    RISING

    Jon Rahm (+9%): Just imagine how good he’ll be in the next few years, when he isn’t playing all of these courses for the first time. With no weaknesses in his game, he’s poised for an even bigger 2018.

    Austin Cook (+7%): From Monday qualifiers to Q-School to close calls on the Web.com, it hasn’t been an easy road to the big leagues. Well, he would have fooled us, because it looked awfully easy as the rookie cruised to a win in just his 14th Tour start.

    Ariya (+6%): Her physical tools are as impressive as any on the LPGA, and if she can shore up her mental game – she crumbled upon reaching world No. 1 – then she’ll become the world-beater we always believed she could be.  

    Tommy Fleetwood (+4%): He ran out of gas in Dubai, but no one played better on the European Tour this year than Fleetwood, Europe’s new No. 1, who has risen from 99th to 18th in the world.   

    Lexi (+1%): She has one million reasons to be pleased with her performance this year … but golf fans are more likely to remember the six runners-up and two careless mistakes (sloppy marking at the ANA and then a yippy 2-footer in the season finale) that cost her a truly spectacular season.


    FALLING

    J-Rose (-1%): Another high finish in Dubai, but his back-nine 38, after surging into the lead, was shocking. It cost him not just the tournament title, but also the season-long race.  

    Hideki (-2%): After getting blown out at the Dunlop Phoenix, he made headlines by saying there’s a “huge gap” between he and winner Brooks Koepka. Maybe something was lost in translation, but Matsuyama being too hard on himself has been a familiar storyline the second half of the year. For his sake, here’s hoping he loosens up.

    Golf-ball showdown (-3%): Recent comments by big-name stars and Mike Davis’ latest salvo about the need for a reduced-flight ball could set up a nasty battle between golf’s governing bodies and manufacturers.

    DL3 (-4%): Boy, the 53-year-old is getting a little too good at rehab – in recent years, he has overcome a neck fusion, foot injury, broken collarbone and displaced thumb. Up next is hip-replacement surgery.

    LPGA Player of the Year (-5%): Sung Hyun Park and So Yeon Ryu tied for the LPGA’s biggest prize, with 162 points. How is there not a tiebreaker in place, whether it’s scoring average or best major performance? Talk about a buzzkill.

    Titleist's Uihlein fires back at Davis over distance

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 21, 2017, 12:59 am

    Consider Titleist CEO Wally Uihlein unmoved by Mike Davis' comments about the evolution of the golf ball – and unhappy.

    In a letter to the Wall Street Journal, the outlet which first published Davis' comments on Sunday, Uihlein took aim at the idea that golf ball distance gains are hurting the sport by providing an additional financial burden to courses.

    "Is there any evidence to support this canard … the trickle-down cost argument?” he wrote (via Golf.com). “Where is the evidence to support the argument that golf course operating costs nationwide are being escalated due to advances in equipment technology?"

    Pointing the blame elsewhere, Uihlein criticized the choices and motivations of modern architects.

    "The only people that seem to be grappling with advances in technology and physical fitness are the short-sighted golf course developers and the supporting golf course architectural community who built too many golf courses where the notion of a 'championship golf course' was brought on line primarily to sell real estate," he wrote.

    The Titleist CEO even went as far as to suggest that Tiger Woods' recent comments that "we need to do something about the golf ball" were motivated by the business interersts of Woods' ball sponsor, Bridgestone.

    "Given Bridgestone’s very small worldwide market share and paltry presence in professional golf, it would seem logical they would have a commercial motive making the case for a reduced distance golf ball," he added.

    Acushnet Holdings, Titleist's parent company, announced in September that Uihlein would be stepping down as the company's CEO at the end of this year but that he will remain on the company's board of directors.

    Class of 2011: The groups before The Group

    By Mercer BaggsNovember 20, 2017, 9:00 pm

    We’ve been grouping things since the beginning, as in The Beginning, when God said this is heaven and this is earth, and you’re fish and you’re fowl.

    God probably wasn’t concerned with marketing strategies at the time and how #beastsoftheearth would look with a hashtag, but humans have evolved into such thinking (or not evolved, depending on your thinking).

    We now have all manner of items lumped into the cute, the catchy and the kitschy. Anything that will capture our attention before the next thing quickly wrests said attention away.

    Modern focus, in a group sense in the golf world, is on the Class of 2011. This isn’t an arbitrary assembly of players based on world ranking or current form. It’s not a Big Pick A Number.

    There’s an actual tie that binds as it takes a specific distinction to be part of the club. It’s a group of 20-somethings who graduated from high school in the aforementioned year, many who have a PGA Tour card, a handful of who have PGA Tour wins, and a couple of who have major titles.

    It’s a deep and talented collective, one for which our knowledge should continue to expand as resumes grow.

    Do any “classes” in golf history compare? Well, it’s not like we’ve long been lumping successful players together based on when they completed their primary education. But there are other notable groups of players, based primarily on birthdate, relative competition and accomplishment.

    Here’s a few on both the men’s and women’s side:

    BORN IN 1912

    Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
    Feb. 4, 1912 Byron Nelson 52 5
    May 27, 1912 Sam Snead 82 7
    Aug. 13, 1912 Ben Hogan 64 9

    Born six months within one another. Only a threesome, but a Hall of Fame trio that combined for 198 PGA Tour wins and 21 majors.


    BORN IN 1949

    Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
    Sept. 4, 1949 Tom Watson 39 8
    Dec. 5, 1949 Lanny Wadkins 21 1
    Dec. 9, 1949 Tom Kite 19 1

    Only 96 days separate these three Hall of Fame players. Extend the reach into March of 1950 and you'll get two-time U.S. Open winner Andy North.


    BORN IN 1955

    Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
    Jan. 30, 1955 Curtis Strange 17 2
    Jan. 30, 1955 Payne Stewart 11 3
    Feb. 10, 1955 Greg Norman 20 2

    Another trio of Hall of Fame players. Strange and Stewart were born on the same day with Norman 11 days later. Fellow PGA Tour winners born in 1955: Scott Simpson, Scott Hoch and Loren Roberts.


    WITHIN A CALENDAR YEAR, 1956-57

    Birthdate Player LPGA wins Major wins
    Feb. 22, 1956 Amy Alcott 29 5
    Oct. 14, 1956 Beth Daniel 33 1
    Oct. 27, 1956 Patty Sheehan 35 6
    Jan. 6, 1957 Nancy Lopez 48 3

    A little arbitrary here, but go with it. Four Hall of Famers on the women's side, all born within one year of each other. That's an average (!) career of 36 tour wins and nearly four majors.


    EUROPE'S BIG 5

    Birthdate Player Euro (PGA Tour) wins Major wins
    April 9, 1957 Seve Ballesteros 50 (9) 5
    July 18, 1957 Nick Faldo 30 (9) 6
    Aug. 27, 1957 Bernhard Langer 42 (3) 2
    Feb. 9, 1958 Sandy Lyle 18 (6) 2
    March 2, 1958 Ian Woosnam 29 (2) 1

    The best 'class' of players Europe has to offer. Five born within a year of one another. Five Hall of Fame members. Five who transformed and globalized European golf.


    WITHIN A CALENDAR YEAR, 1969-70

    Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
    Sept. 12, 1969 Angel Cabrera 3 2
    Oct. 17, 1969 Ernie Els 19 4
    May 12, 1970 Jim Furyk 17 1
    May 12, 1970 Mike Weir 8 1
    June 16, 1970 Phil Mickelson 42 5

    Not a tight-knit group, but a little more global bonding in accordance to the PGA Tour's increased international reach. Add in worldwide wins – in excess of 200 combined – and this group is even more impressive.


    BORN IN 1980

    Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
    Jan. 9, 1980 Sergio Garcia 10 1
    July 16, 1980 Adam Scott 13 1
    July 30, 1980 Justin Rose 8 1

    Could be three future Hall of Fame members here.

    Editor's note: Golf Channel's editorial research unit contributed.