Wie earns tour card Lewis medalist at Q-School

By Associated PressDecember 7, 2008, 5:00 pm
LPGA Tour _newDAYTONA BEACH, Fla. ' Having played 90 holes over five days in pursuit of LPGA membership, the final act for Michelle Wie was to sign her scorecard. Walking to the tent, one fan held up a sign that played off the marathon political season.
 
Yes Wie Can.
 
Yes, she did, even if the road was filled with one surprise after another.
 

Wie Watch ' LPGA Q-School

Final round
 
Score: 74 (12-under 348, tied for seventh place and six strokes behind medalist Stacy Lewis)
 
Behind the scorecard: Nightmare bogey-bogey-bogey start was more a byproduct of the cold, windy conditions, and a punchy swing that David Leadbetter said had gotten quick in the wind, than nerves. Wie managed to slow her swing and closed her front nine with six pars. She picked up her first birdie of the day at the 10th, a sweeping 8-footer, and easily secured her tour card with a steady par-par-birdie-par finish.
 
Quotable: She was talking about her (injured left) wrist this week and said, Its tingling a little bit. Im not nervous but my wrist is, Leadbetter said.
 
Sights and sounds: In her post-round interview, her first of the week, Wie said she planned to attend the winter quarter at Stanford. That is, she added, if she makes it out of her fall quarter. Wie planned to fly from one taxing exam, Q-School finals, to another, her final exam in sociology on Wednesday. The winter quarter ends in March, which would give Wie plenty of time to prepare for the years first major in April. Wie also said she has nearly settled on a major ' East Asian Studies. Im 89.5 percent sure, she said.
 
' Rex Hoggard


I took the long way to get here, Wie said after a 2-over 74 on Sunday, putting her in a tie for seventh among the 20 players who earned their LPGA cards. But I feel really good about it.
 
The 19-year-old from Hawaii looked to be on the fast track when she qualified for her first LPGA event at age 12. Wie played in the final group of a major at 13, shot 68 on the PGA Tour at the Sony Open a year later, had a share of the 54-hole lead at the U.S. Womens Open at 15 and shared the lead on the back nine of three straight majors soon after getting a drivers license.
 
Equally amazing was her downfall.
 
First came the wrist injuries in 2007, and shattered confidence as she tried to play hurt and couldnt break par. That led to Q-School, where the cant miss teen could not afford to fail.
 
Despite starting with three straight bogeys and failing to hit a green in regulation until the sixth hole, Wie steadied herself at LPGA International and made it comfortably.
 
This is a good test, swing coach David Leadbetter said. Theres a lot of jingled nerves, and she has performed nicely.
 
For someone who had been taking handouts longer for one-third of her life ' 53 exemptions or invitations out of 62 events ' Wie felt earning her card was among her greatest achievements.
 
Finally, she can tee it up on the LPGA and feel as though she belongs.
 
I really earned it, Wie said. I legitimately went through Q-school ' went through the first stage, went through the second stage ' and I really got it. Its like high school graduation.
 
The valedictorian was former NCAA champion Stacy Lewis, who had to go through Q-school because the LPGA does not count earnings from the U.S. Womens Open, where she tied for third in her pro debut. Lewis birdied her last two holes for a 69, giving her a three-shot victory over Amy Yang.
 
I had the door shut on me a couple of times, but they cant do it anymore, Lewis said.
 
Lewis finished at 18-under 342.
 
Wie said she will return to Stanford for the winter quarter, but plans a full LPGA schedule next year. Without being a member, she was limited to six LPGA events, plus the U.S. Womens Open and Womens British Open.
 
I play whenever I want now, not when I have to play, or only six tournaments, she said. Im going to take advantage of this card.
 
But she hasnt ruled out playing against the men.
 
Wie has not made the cut in eight tries on the PGA Tour, where she twice shot 68 in the Sony Open to set the record for lowest score by a female competing against the men. She has played six other mens events, making only one cut in South Korea.
 
I still want to purse that, she said. Im the kind of person where if I start out and want to pursue it, Im going to do it. Ive always wanted to do it since I started golf.
 
Next up is two days of LPGA orientation, a final at Stanford on Wednesday, then home to Honolulu for the holidays where she plans to be a beach bum for seven days.
 
All that mattered on Sunday, where the 15 mph wind and temperatures in the 50s made for a chilly start, was finishing in the top 20. Wie figured she was in good shape after settling down with a diet of fairways-and greens, but she still felt anxious walking toward the 18th green and looking at the lone leaderboard on the Champions course at LPGA International.
 
I was like, I just need to see three letters on that leaderboard, she said.
 
The name Wie was toward the bottom, hidden by a gallery never before seen at LPGA Q-School.
 
As much as Wie needed her membership card, the LPGA desperately needs a player like Wie, especially with Annika Sorenstam stepping away from competition. The gallery was close to 500 people, enough to surround the 18th green when Wie knocked in a 4-foot par putt to complete her most important test in golf.
 
It seems so long ago when Tom Lehman nicknamed her the Big Wiesy because her swing reminded him of Ernie Els; when she was atop the leaderboard of three straight LPGA majors at age 16 without winning; when she reached the quarterfinals of the mens U.S. Amateur Public Links as a 15-year-old during an unfathomable quest of qualifying for the Masters.
 
With an LPGA card in hand, Wie is all about the future.
 
You will never be who you were when you were 14 or 15, she said. You move forward. Im a completely different person now.
 
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    Tour's Integrity Program raises gambling questions

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 17, 2018, 7:00 pm

    The video begins with an eye-opening disclaimer: “Sport betting markets produce revenues of $1 trillion each year.”

    For all the seemingly elementary elements of the 15-minute video PGA Tour players have been required to watch as part of the circuit’s newly created Integrity Program, it’s the enormity of the industry – $1 trillion annually – that concerns officials.

    There are no glaring examples of how sport betting has impacted golf, no red flags that sent Tour officials into damage control; just a realization that with that kind of money it’s best to be proactive.

    “It's important that in that world, you can operate not understanding what's happening week in and week out, or you can assume that all of our players and everybody in our ecosystem understands that that's not an acceptable activity, or you can just be proactive and clarify and educate,” Tour commissioner Jay Monahan explained earlier this month. “That's what we have attempted to do not with just the video, but with all of our communication with our players and will continue to do that.”

    But if clarification is the goal, a copy of the training video obtained by GolfChannel.com paints a different picture.



    Although the essence of the policy is straightforward – “prohibit players from betting on professional golf” – the primary concern, at least if the training video is any indication, is on match fixing; and warns players to avoid divulging what is considered “inside information.”

    “I thought the questions were laughable. They were all like first-grade-level questions,” Chez Reavie said. “I would like to think everyone out here already knows the answer to those questions. But the Tour has to protect themselves.”

    Monahan explained that the creation of the integrity policy was not in reaction to a specific incident and every player asked last week at the Sony Open said they had never encountered any type of match fixing.

    “No, not at all,” Reavie said. “I have friends who will text me from home after a round, ‘Oh, I bet on you playing so-and-so.’ But I make it clear I don’t want to know. I don’t gamble like that. No one has ever approached me about losing a match.”

    It was a common answer, but the majority of the video focuses on how players can avoid being placed in a compromising situation that could lead to match fixing. It should be noted that gamblers can place wagers on head-to-head matchups, provided by betting outlets, during stroke-play rounds of tournaments – not just in match-play competitions.

    Part of the training video included questions players must answer to avoid violating the policy. An example of this was how a player should respond when asked, “Hello, buddy! Well played today. I was following your progress. I noticed your partner pulled out of his approach on 18, looked like his back. Is he okay for tomorrow?”

    The correct answer from a list of options was, “I don’t know, sorry. I’m sure he will get it looked at if it’s bothering him.”

    You get the idea, but for some players the training created more questions.

    How, for example, should a player respond when asked how he’s feeling by a fan?

    “The part I don’t understand, let’s say a member of your club comes out and watches you on the range hitting balls, he knows you’re struggling, and he bets against you. Somehow, some way that could come back to you, according to what I saw on that video,” said one player who asked not to be identified.

    Exactly what constitutes a violation is still unclear for some who took the training, which was even more concerning considering the penalties for a violation of the policy.

    The first violation is a warning and a second infraction will require the player to retake the training program, but a third violation is a fine “up to $500,000” or “the amount illegally received from the betting activity.” A sixth violation is a lifetime ban from the Tour.

    Players are advised to be mindful of what they post on social media and to “refrain from talking about odds or betting activity.” The latter could be an issue considering how often players discuss betting on other sports.

    Just last week at the Sony Open, Kevin Kisner and Justin Thomas had a “friendly” wager on the College Football Playoff National Championship. Kisner, a Georgia fan, lost the wager and had to wear an Alabama football jersey while playing the 17th hole last Thursday.

    “If I'd have got the points, he'd have been wearing [the jersey], and I was lobbying for the points the whole week, and he didn't give them to me,” Kisner said. “So I'm still not sure about this bet.”

    It’s unclear to some if Kisner’s remark, which was a joke and didn’t have anything to do with golf, would be considered a violation. From a common sense standpoint, Kisner did nothing wrong, but the uncertainty is an issue.

    Much like drug testing, which the Tour introduced in 2008, few, if any, think sport betting is an issue in golf; but also like the anti-doping program, there appears to be the danger of an inadvertent and entirely innocent violation.

    The Tour is trying to be proactive and the circuit has a trillion reasons to get out in front of what could become an issue, but if the initial reaction to the training video is any indication they may want to try a second take.

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    Lexi looks to shine as LPGA season begins next week

    By Randall MellJanuary 17, 2018, 6:06 pm

    Lexi Thompson may be No. 4 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings, but in so many ways she became the new face of the women’s game last year.

    That makes her the headliner in a fairly star-studded season opener at the Pure Silk Bahamas Classic next week.

    Three of the top four players in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings are scheduled to tee it up on Paradise Island, including world No. 1 Shanshan Feng and co-Rolex Player of the Year So Yeon Ryu.

    From the heartache at year’s start with the controversial loss at the ANA Inspiration, through the angst in the middle of the year with her mother’s cancer diagnosis, to the stunning disappointment at year’s end, Thompson emerged as the story of the year because of all she achieved in spite of those ordeals.

    Next week’s event will mark the first time Thompson tees it up in an LPGA tournament since her season ended in stunning fashion last November with a missed 2-foot putt that cost her a chance to win the CME Group Tour Championship and the Rolex Player of the Year Award, and become the world No. 1.

    She still walked away with the CME Globe’s $1 million jackpot and the Vare Trophy for the season’s low scoring average.

    She also walked away sounding determined to show she will bounce back from that last disappointment the same way she bounced back from her gut-wrenching loss at the year’s first major, the ANA, where a four-shot Sunday penalty cost her a chance to win her second major.

    “Just going through what I have this whole year, and seeing how strong I am, and how I got through it all and still won two tournaments, got six seconds ... it didn’t stop me,” Thompson said leaving the CME Group Tour Championship. “This won’t either.”

    Thompson was named the Golf Writers Association of America’s Player of the Year in a vote of GWAA membership. Ryu and Sung Hyun Park won the tour’s points-based Rolex Player of the Year Award.

    With those two victories and six second-place finishes, three of those coming after playoff losses, Thompson was close to fashioning a spectacular year in 2017, to dominating the tour.

    The new season opens with Thompson the center of attention again. Consistently one of the tour’s best ball strikers and longest hitters, she enjoyed her best year on tour last season by making dramatic improvements in her wedge play, short game and, most notably, her putting.

    She doesn’t have a swing coach. She fashioned a better all-around game on her own, or under the watchful eye of her father, Scott. All the work she put in showed up in her winning the Vare Trophy.

    The Pure Silk Bahamas Classic will also feature defending champion Brittany Lincicome, as well as Ariya Jutanugarn, Stacy Lewis, Michelle Wie, Brooke Henderson, I.K. Kim, Danielle Kang and Charley Hull.

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    One & Done: 2018 CareerBuilder Challenge

    By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 5:55 pm

    Beginning in 2018, Golf Channel is offering a "One & Done" fantasy game alternative. Choose a golfer and add the salary they earn at the event to your season-long total - but know that once chosen, a player cannot be used again for the rest of the year.

    Log on to www.playfantasygolf.com to start your own league and make picks for this week's event.

    Here are some players to consider for One & Done picks this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge, where Hudson Swafford returns as the defending champion:

    Zach Johnson. The two-time major champ has missed the cut here three years in a row. So why include him in One & Done consideration? Because the three years before that (2012-14) included three top-25s highlighted by a third-place finish, and his T-14 at the Sony Open last week was his fifth straight top-25 dating back to September.

    Bud Cauley. Cauley has yet to win on Tour, but that could very well change this year - even this week. Cauley ended up only two shots behind Swafford last year and tied for 14th the year prior, as four of his five career appearances have netted at least a top-40 finish. He opened the new season with a T-7 in Napa and closed out the fall with a T-8 at Sea Island.

    Adam Hadwin. Swafford left last year with the trophy, but it looked for much of the weekend like it would be Hadwin's tournament as he finished second despite shooting a 59 in the third round. Hadwin was also T-6 at this event in 2016 and now with a win under his belt last March he returns with some unfinished business.

    Charles Howell III. If you didn't use him last week at the Sony Open, this could be another good spot for the veteran who has four top-15 finishes over the last seven years at this event, highlighted by a playoff loss in 2013. His T-32 finish last week in Honolulu, while not spectacular, did include four sub-70 scores.

    David Lingmerth. Lingmerth was in that 2013 playoff with Howell (eventually won by Brian Gay), and he also lost here in overtimei to Jason Dufner in 2016. The Swede also cracked the top 25 here in 2015 and is making his first start since his wife, Megan, gave birth to the couple's first child in December. Beware the sleep-deprived golfer.

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    DJ: Kapalua win means nothing for Abu Dhabi

    By Associated PressJanuary 17, 2018, 2:55 pm

    ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – Dustin Johnson's recent victory in Hawaii doesn't mean much when it comes to this week's tournament.

    The top-ranked American will play at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship for the second straight year. But this time he is coming off a victory at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, which he won by eight shots.

    ''That was two weeks ago. So it really doesn't matter what I did there,'' said Johnson, who finished runner-up to Tommy Fleetwood in Abu Dhabi last year. ''This is a completely new week and everybody starts at even par and so I've got to start over again.''

    In 2017, the long-hitting Johnson put himself in contention despite only making one eagle and no birdies on the four par-5s over the first three rounds.

    ''The par 5s here, they are not real easy because they are fairly long, but dependent on the wind, I can reach them if I hit good tee balls,'' the 2016 U.S. Open champion said. ''Obviously, I'd like to play them a little better this year.''

    The tournament will see the return of Paul Casey as a full member of the European Tour after being away for three years.

    ''It's really cool to be back. What do they say, absence makes the heart grow fonder? Quite cheesy, but no, really, really cool,'' said the 40-year-old Englishman, who is now ranked 14th in the world. ''When I was back at the Open Championship at Birkdale, just the reception there, playing in front of a home crowd, I knew this is something I just miss.''

    The Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship starts Thursday and also features former No. 1 Rory McIlroy, who is making a comeback after more than three months off.