Wie Finishes Dead Last Again

By Associated PressSeptember 15, 2006, 4:00 pm
84 Lumber ClassicFARMINGTON, Pa. -- She was playing in the 84 Lumber Classic and, for a while Friday, it appeared Michelle Wie might shoot an 84.
 
Wie's drives constantly landed short of the big-hitting pros, forcing her to use long irons on her second shots when the men were pulling out 7-irons. Her putts wouldn't drop, either, during a second-round 81 -- even those routine 4- to 6-footers most on tour can sink by the dozens.
 
Michelle Wie
Michelle Wie again found herself in over her head at the 84 Lumber Classic.
She keeps talking a good game when opposing the guys, but keeps playing a mediocre one. No wonder some of the PGA Tour players, polite and patient with her until now, are questioning what she's doing playing against men when she doesn't have the game for it. At least not yet.
 
'She's certainly not scaring anybody around here,' said Ryder Cup team member Scott Verplank, who also missed the cut. 'To be honest, I didn't even know she was here.'
 
Wie, who turns 17 next month, tried and failed for a sixth time in her short career to make the cut in PGA Tour event, something no woman has done since Babe Didrikson Zaharias in 1945. But while Wie came close a couple of times, she looked badly out of place Friday during her second last-place finish in as many weeks against men.
 
Her rounds of 77 and 81 left her 13 shots away from making the cut and a whopping 23 shots behind co-leaders Ryan Moore and Ben Curtis, who were at 9-under 135. That's a deficit normally associated with a club pro who wrangles an exemption to go against the big names.
 
'I'm not going to give up,' Wie said. 'I feel like I'm progressing, I'm getting better, even though my score didn't show it.'
 
But why keep doing it when she's not even coming close? She also finished last a week ago in the European Masters, with scores of 77 and 78. She had all of one birdie in 72 holes the last two weeks, that coming Friday on the par-4 16th during a round that included a double bogey and eight bogeys.
 
'I just had a bad two weeks, that's it. No more, no less,' she said. 'I feel like I'm getting better and better. my game is progressing, my shots are actually going to the fairway now. My shots are feeling solid.'
 
However, it appears she is judging her game against only her own performances, not those of the men she aspires to emulate. As Verplank pointed out Friday, not even Tiger Woods regularly tried to beat the men when he was 16.
 
'Obviously, she's some sort of phenom being a 16-year-old girl who can play like she can, but honestly there's not a male or female in the world who can compete out here at that age,' Verplank said. 'I'm sure there are some very fine 16-year-old boys who can play, but it would be awful hard for them to come out here and make a scratch.
 
'If I was her adviser, I would tell her to go kick all the ladies' tails around for about four years and if she wants to try again when she's 20, 21 and grown up more, and maybe a better player, come on back.'
 
That kind of talk doesn't discourage Wie, who promises to keep trying to beat the men -- as long, of course, as she gets the three or so sponsor exemptions a year she needs to compete. She got into the 84 Lumber field because of her close friendship with the lumber chain's founder, Joe Hardy, and her image was splashed on virtually every piece of promotional material distributed by the tournament.
 
She won't return to the 84 next year, as the tournament will fold after this weekend.
 
Despite being uncommonly mature for her age, she occasionally flashes the naivete of youth. She talks about making an adjustment here, a tweak there, when it seems evident that almost every part of her game needs upgrading to compete against the world's best male golfers.
 
'I definitely look forward to the next time and just kind of assess what went wrong, what happened,' she said. 'I have a clear idea of what I have to work on and what I have to do to get better. I'm definitely going to hit the gym.'
 
Wie, who returns to being a Hawaiian high school senior next week, insists she's not being pushed to keep playing against men by her father, swing coach David Leadbetter or her advisers.
 
'It's kind of like a teamwork kind of thing,' she said. 'We all put in our ideas, we all put in our opinions. But it all comes down to me. I have the final say on everything.'
 
Related Links:
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  • Photo by Enrique Berardi/LAAC

    Top-ranked amateur Niemann one back at LAAC in Chile

    By Nick MentaJanuary 21, 2018, 8:44 pm

    Argentina’s Jaime Lopez Rivarola leads the Latin America Amateur Championship at 5 under par following a round of 3-under 68 Saturday in Chile.

    The former Georgia Bulldog is now 36 holes from what would be a return trip to Augusta National but his first Masters.

    "The truth is that I crossed off on my bucket list playing Augusta [National], because I happened to play there," Rivarola said. "I've played every year with my university. But playing in the Masters is a completely different thing. I have been to the Masters, and I've watched the players play during the practice rounds. But [competing would be] a completely different thing."

    He is followed on the leaderboard by the three players who competed in the playoff that decided last year’s LAAC in Panama: Joaquin Niemann (-4), Toto Gana (-4), and Alvaro Ortiz (-3).


    Click here for full-field scores from the Latin America Amateur Championship


    Chile’s Niemann is the top-ranked amateur in the world who currently holds conditional status on the Web.com Tour and is poised to begin his career as a professional, unless of course he takes the title this week. After a disappointing 74 in Round 1, Niemann was 10 shots better in Round 2, rocketing up the leaderboard with a 7-under 64.

    “Today, I had a completely different mentality, and that's usually what happens in my case," Niemann said. "When I shoot a bad round, the following day I have extra motivation. I realize and I feel that I have to play my best golf. The key to being a good golfer is to find those thoughts and to transfer them into good golf."

    Niemann’s fellow Chilean and best friend Gana is the defending champion who missed the cut at the Masters last year and is now a freshman at Lynn University. His second-round 70 was a roller coaster, complete with six birdies, three eagles and a double.

    Mexico’s Ortiz, the brother of three-time Web.com Tour winner Carlos, was 6 under for the week before three back-nine bogeys dropped him off the pace.

    Two past champions, Matias Dominguez and Paul Chaplet, sit 5 over and 7 over, respectively.

    The winner of the Latin America Amateur Championship earns an invite to this year’s Masters. He is also exempt into the The Amateur Championship, the U.S. Amateur, U.S. Open sectional qualifying, and Open Championship final qualifying.

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    McIlroy gets back on track

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 21, 2018, 3:10 pm

    There’s only one way to view Rory McIlroy’s performance at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship:

    He is well ahead of schedule.

    Sure, McIlroy is probably disappointed that he couldn’t chase down Ross Fisher (and then Tommy Fleetwood) on the final day at Abu Dhabi Golf Club. But against a recent backdrop of injuries and apathy, his tie for third was a resounding success. He reasserted himself, quickly, and emerged 100 percent healthy.

    “Overall, I’m happy,” he said after finishing at 18-under 270, four back of Fleetwood. “I saw some really, really positive signs. My attitude, patience and comfort level were really good all week.”

    To fully appreciate McIlroy’s auspicious 2018 debut, consider his state of disarray just four months ago. He was newly married. Nursing a rib injury. Breaking in new equipment. Testing another caddie. His only constant was change. “Mentally, I wasn’t in a great place,” he said, “and that was because of where I was physically.”

    And so he hit the reset button, taking the longest sabbatical of his career, a three-and-a-half-month break that was as much psychological as physical. He healed his body and met with a dietician, packing five pounds of muscle onto his already cut frame. He dialed in his TaylorMade equipment, shoring up a putting stroke and wedge game that was shockingly poor for a player of his caliber. Perhaps most importantly, he cleared his cluttered mind, cruising around Italy with wife Erica in a 1950s Mercedes convertible.


    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


    After an intense buildup to his season debut, McIlroy was curious about the true state of his game, about how he’d stack up when he finally put a scorecard in his hand. It didn’t take him long to find out. 

    Playing the first two rounds alongside Dustin Johnson – the undisputed world No. 1 who was fresh off a blowout victory at Kapalua – McIlroy beat him by a shot. Despite a 103-day competitive layoff, he played bogey-free for 52 holes. And he put himself in position to win, trailing by one heading into the final round. Though Fleetwood blew away the field with a back-nine 30 to defend his title, McIlroy collected his eighth top-5 in his last nine appearances in Abu Dhabi.

    “I know it’s only three months,” he said, “but things change, and I felt like maybe I needed a couple of weeks to get back into the thought process that you need to get into for competitive golf. I got into that pretty quickly this week, so that was the most pleasing thing.”

    The sense of relief afterward was palpable. McIlroy is entering his 11th full year as a pro, and deep down he likely realizes 2018 is shaping up as his most important yet.

    The former Boy Wonder is all grown up, and his main challengers now are a freakish athlete (DJ) and a trio of players under 25 (Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm) who don’t lack for motivation or confidence. The landscape has changed significantly since McIlroy’s last major victory, in August 2014, and the only way he’ll be able to return to world No. 1 is to produce a sustained period of exceptional golf, like the rest of the game’s elite. (Based on average points, McIlroy, now ranked 11th, is closer to the bottom of the rankings, No. 1928, than to Johnson.)

    But after years of near-constant turmoil, McIlroy, 28, finally seems ready to pursue that goal again. He is planning the heaviest workload of his career – as many as 30 events, including seven more starts before the Masters – and appears refreshed and reenergized, perhaps because this year, for the first time in a while, he is playing without distractions.

    Not his relationships or his health. Not his equipment or his caddie or his off-course dealings.

    Everything in his life is lined up.

    Drama tends to follow one of the sport’s most captivating characters, but for now he can just play golf – lots and lots of golf. How liberating.

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    Crocker among quartet of Open qualifiers in Singapore

    By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 2:20 pm

    Former amateur standout Sean Crocker was among four players who qualified for the 147th Open via top-12 finishes this week at the Asian Tour's SMBC Singapore Open as part of the Open Qualifying Series.

    Crocker had a strong college career at USC before turning pro late last year. The 21-year-old received an invitation into this event shortly thereafter, and he made the most of his appearance with a T-6 finish to net his first career major championship berth.

    There were four spots available to those not otherwise exempt among the top 12 in Singapore, but winner Sergio Garcia and runners-up Shaun Norris and Satoshi Kodaira had already booked their tickets for Carnoustie. That meant that Thailand's Danthai Boonma and Jazz Janewattanond both qualified thanks to T-4 finishes.


    Full-field scores from the Singapore Open


    Crocker nabbed the third available qualifying spot, while the final berth went to Australia's Lucas Herbert. Herbert entered the week ranked No. 274 in the world and was the highest-ranked of the three otherwise unqualified players who ended the week in a tie for eighth.

    The next event in the Open Qualifying Series will be in Japan at the Mizuno Open in May, when four more spots at Carnoustie will be up for grabs. The 147th Open will be held July 19-22 in Carnoustie, Scotland.

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    Got a second? Fisher a bridesmaid again

    By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 1:40 pm

    Ross Fisher is in the midst of a career resurgence - he just doesn't have the hardware to prove it.

    Fisher entered the final round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship with a share of the lead, and as he made the turn he appeared in position to claim his first European Tour victory since March 2014. But he slowed just as Tommy Fleetwood caught fire, and when the final putt fell Fisher ended up alone in second place, two shots behind his fellow Englishman.

    It continues a promising trend for Fisher, who at age 37 now has 14 career runner-up finishes and three in his last six starts dating back to October. He was edged by Tyrrell Hatton both at the Italian Open and the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in the fall, and now has amassed nine worldwide top-10 finishes since March.


    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


    Fisher took a big step toward ending his winless drought with an eagle on the par-5 second followed by a pair of birdies, and he stood five shots clear of Fleetwood with only nine holes to go. But while Fleetwood played Nos. 10-15 in 4 under, Fisher played the same stretch in 2 over and was unable to eagle the closing hole to force a playoff.

    While Fisher remains in search of an elusive trophy, his world ranking has benefited from his recent play. The veteran was ranked outside the top 100 in the world as recently as September 2016, but his Abu Dhabi runner-up result is expected to move him inside the top 30 when the new rankings are published.