For Wie Friends May Be Hard to Come By

By Associated PressOctober 11, 2005, 4:00 pm
PALM DESERT, Calif. -- Michelle Wie has loads of money in the bank, all because she turned pro and signed her name at the bottom of two endorsement contracts.
 
Making friends might be a little tougher.
 
Wie turned 16 on Tuesday, finally old enough to drive. And while she is blazing her own trails in golf, Wie should expect to hit a few bumps along the road in the form of jealously and resentment.
 
Michelle Wie
Michelle Wie may have to earn acceptance on the LPGA through her play.
She certainly won't be the first young prodigy to encounter those.
 
Remember Tiger Woods?
 
``I hadn't done anything on the PGA Tour ... and I got big contracts,'' Woods said last week, recalling the resentment he felt when he turned pro in 1996.
 
Woods had the best amateur career this side of Bobby Jones. He missed the cut the first seven times he played on the PGA Tour, but he shot 66 in the '96 British Open and tied for 22nd in his last major as an amateur. Nike thought so much of his potential that they awarded him a five-year contract worth $40 million.
 
The money was outrageous at the time, and so was the reaction on tour.
 
``Some guys gave me the cold shoulder,'' Woods said. ``Some guys wouldn't talk to me at all.''
 
That didn't last long, as Woods won twice in seven starts to not only secure his PGA Tour card, but to finish in the top 30 on the money list and qualify for the Tour Championship.
 
Then there was Kelli Kuehne.
 
She turned pro at the end of 1996 and brought similar credentials -- two straight U.S. Women's Amateurs and the Women's British Amateur during her All-American years at Texas.
 
Her endorsement deal with Nike sent shock waves throughout the LPGA Tour, where women battle for a fraction of the money paid to the men. Worse yet, Nike had just cut loose one-third of its LPGA staff -- including Juli Inkster and Beth Daniel -- saying it wanted to go with youth.
 
A year later, the swoosh signed up Kuehne for about $1.25 million a year, enormous money for the LPGA Tour, astounding considering Kuehne didn't turn pro until Q-school was over. She had no card, and no place to play.
 
The reaction was so severe that Sports Illustrated estimated 140 out of 150 players refused to wear anything Nike.
 
``Women are very competitive, in case you haven't noticed,'' Kuehne said. ``And women tend to hold grudges -- not just on our tour, but women in general. Once I started playing well, it wasn't an issue any more. I don't think anyone wanted me to fail, but I remember some girls resented me. It's all part of being a rookie.''
 
Wie at least has experience on her side. She has been dealing with resentment ever since she started getting a full slate of sponsor's exemptions at age 13.
 
``When you have talent like that,'' Cristie Kerr said, ``you're always going to have a little controversy around it.''
 
Some players were indignant when she received an exemption last year to the U.S. Women's Open, especially when it was announced as the Curtis Cup team was preparing for a weekend of practice and bonding. All of Wie's teammates had to go through qualifying for the Open.
 
Wie again got preferential treatment this year when the LPGA Championship changed its criteria to award an exemption to a top amateur -- guess who? -- making her the first amateur to ever play in that major.
 
Now comes the money, contracts from Nike and Sony worth as much as $10 million a year. That's about $3 million more than what Annika Sorenstam pulls in, even though the Swede has won nine majors and the career Grand Slam.
 
``She's going to make something like $10 million? For what? For winning one tournament?'' sniffed 17-year-old Morgan Pressel in the latest issue of Fortune magazine that features Wie on its cover.
 
The reference was to the U.S. Women's Amateur Public Links that Wie won at age 13, which first cranked up the hype over this Hawaii sensation. Wie hasn't won another tournament since, although no one denies her talent.
 
She has three runner-up finishes on the LPGA Tour this year, including the LPGA Championship. She tied for third at the Women's British Open. And in just seven starts, she would have earned $640,870, enough to put her 13th on the LPGA Tour money list.
 
That's why Woods thinks she might have an easier time than he did.
 
``She's been out there,'' he said. ``She has played in so many tournaments out there. I only played in the majors that I qualified for through (winning) the Amateur, then maybe one other. I didn't really do much. Plus, I didn't have success at the tour level, where she has. And that's the difference.''
 
Is she worth what Nike and Sony are paying?
 
No matter what she does, Wie brings attention wherever she goes. TV ratings were up 54 percent when she played in the John Deere Classic on the PGA Tour, the tournament's gross receipts were up 40 percent.
 
``Do I think Michelle will get animosity? A little bit,'' Kuehne said. ``But she's proven that she's certainly capable of earning a damn good living on our tour.''
 
LPGA Tour commission Carolyn Bivens met with players last week when Wie announced she was turning pro. They know what's coming, because they have seen it before.
 
The commissioner's plea was to look at the big picture.
 
``Carolyn told us we can all form whatever opinion you want for the moment,'' Meg Mallon said. ``But this girl is going to be good for you.''
 
Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Def. champ Fitzpatrick grabs lead at Euro finale

By Associated Press, Golf Channel DigitalNovember 17, 2017, 1:50 pm

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – Defending champion Matthew Fitzpatrick shot a second straight 5-under-par 67 to secure a one-stroke lead halfway through the European Tour's season-ending Tour Championship on Friday.

At 10 under after two rounds on the Earth course of Jumeirah Golf Estate, Fitzpatrick leads English compatriot Tyrrell Hatton, whom he beat by one shot to win the title last year.

Hatton moved into contention with a brilliant 9-under 63, a round soured only by a closing bogey on the par-5 18th hole.

In the Race to Dubai, main protagonists Tommy Fleetwood and Justin Rose experienced contrasting emotions to their opening rounds. Fleetwood boosted his chances by rising into a tie for 11th at 6 under after a 65. Rose endured a three-putt bogey on the 18th to finish with a 70, and dropped on the leaderboard so he's just two shots ahead of Fleetwood.

Masters champion Sergio Garcia, the only other player with a chance to win the Order of Merit, stayed in contention by adding a 69 to his opening 70 to be one shot behind Fleetwood.


DP World Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the DP World Tour Championship


Fleetwood needs to equal or better Rose's finishing position to claim the title. If Rose doesn't finish in the top five and Garcia doesn't win, Fleetwood will have done enough.

Fitzpatrick made two bogeys but eagled the 14th, and five birdies contributed to his 67.

Overnight leader Patrick Reed is now three back following an even-par 72. Reed is in the field thanks to a European Tour regulation that allows the Presidents Cup to count as an official event, thus allowing him to meet his quota of tournaments played.

Fitzpatrick was helped immensely also by the 18th, where Hatton, Rose, and Reed all made bogeys. Fitzpatrick birdied the hole for a second straight day with a 25-foot putt.

''I said to my caddie, we were putting really, really well all week so far,'' Fitzpatrick said.

''The thing is, you get so many fast putts around here, even uphill into the green, they are still running at 12, 13 (on the stimpmeter) even. You've just got to be really sort of careful. Every putt is effectively a two-putt. You've got to control your pace well and limit your mistakes, because it's easy to three-putt out here.''

Rose, hoping to win a third straight tournament after triumphs in China and Turkey, was disappointed with his finish despite playing solid golf from tee to green.

''To make six (on 18) just ends the day on the wrong note, but other than that, I played really well on the back nine,'' Rose said.

''I was aware of the scores and who had done what today. But listen, halfway stage, I'd probably have signed up for that if somebody said on Wednesday you would be in this position after two rounds. It's a position you can build on the weekend.''

Fleetwood resurrected his chances of winning the Order of Merit with a 65, eight shots better than his opening round. His only bogey of the day came on the seventh after an errant drive, but that was the only mistake on a solid day that saw him make eight birdies.

Fleetwood spent hours on the putting green after his first round.

''I needed a low one today for (a tournament win and the Order of Merit),'' he said. ''Luckily, I got a good score.''

Closing eagle gives Kirk 1-shot lead in RSM

By Rex HoggardNovember 17, 2017, 12:16 am

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. - Chris Kirk holed an 18-foot putt for eagle on his final hole for a 9-under 63 and a one-shot lead Thursday in the RSM Classic.

Kirk played the par 5s on the Plantation Course at Sea Island Golf Club in 5 under.

''I kind of hit my putter on the fringe a little bit and I wasn't sure it was going to get there, but that was just kind of the day that it was,'' Kirk said. ''Even when I thought it wasn't quite going to work out, it still went in the middle of the hole.''

The seven lowest scores of the opening round came on the Plantation Course during a picturesque afternoon on the Golden Isles. Sporting a University of Georgia hat Thursday, Kirk won at Sea Island four years ago for the second of his four PGA Tour victories.

''It's a big Georgia territory out here on St. Simons,'' Kirk said. ''Hopefully, my hat will bring me some luck the rest of the week.''

The tournament is the final PGA Tour event of the calendar year, and Kirk is sorting out equipment changes.

''I'm still trying to get it all worked out and figure out what I want to do going forward,'' Kirk said. ''But keep shooting 9 under, so I won't have to worry about it too much.'

Joel Dahmen had a 64.


RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the RSM Classic


''I think it played a little easier today,'' Dahmen said. ''The wind was down, greens were a little softer over here on the Plantation side. But just kept the ball in front of me and made a bunch of 8- to 10-footers.

''I've been rolling it pretty good,'' Swafford said. ''Took some time off, which was nice, after China. I was kind of frustrated with the golf a little bit. Took a little time off and got back into it. Something just kind of started clicking, but knew I don't have to be crazy aggressive and just give myself a chance.''

Sea Island resident Hudson Swafford was at 65 at the Plantation along with Jason Kokrak and Brian Gay.

''I feel like I've been rolling it pretty good,'' Swafford said. ''Took some time off, which was nice, after China. I was kind of frustrated with the golf a little bit. Took a little time off and got back into it. Something just kind of started clicking, but knew I don't have to be crazy aggressive and just give myself a chance.''

He played alongside fellow former Georgia players Bubba Watson and Brian Harman.

''We are right in the heart of Dawgs' territory, mine and Harman's backyard, so it's kind of nice,'' Swafford said.

Though, his caddie wore an Auburn shirt.

''We don't need to talk about that,'' said Swafford, not needing to be reminded that Auburn beat Georgia in football last week.

Nick Watney and Brice Garnett each had a 5-under 65 on the Seaside Course, which will be used for the final two rounds.

Brandt Snedeker opened with a 67 in his first return from a sternum injury that sidelined him since the Travelers in June.

Harman shot 69, and Watson had a 71.

Co-leader Smith credits Foley's influence

By Randall MellNovember 16, 2017, 11:33 pm

NAPLES, Fla. – Sarah Jane Smith is making the most of the devoted efforts of Sean Foley this week.

Foley’s prize pupil, Justin Rose, is in the hunt at the World Tour Championship in the United Arab Emirates, looking to win the European Tour’s Race to Dubai, but Foley isn’t there with him.

Foley promised to help Smith this week, and he’s living up to the pledge, making the trip to Naples.

“At 33, Sarah is in her prime,” Foley told GolfChannel.com. “She is going to hold a trophy at some point. She is too skilled not to win.”

Foley's extra attention is paying off for Smith.


CME Group Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship


With a 6-under-par 66, Smith moved into early contention to make her first LPGA title memorable at the CME Group Tour Championship. She’s tied for the first-round lead with Taiwan rookie Peiyun Chien.

“I just seem to play my best with him,” Smith said.

Foley, the former coach to Tiger Woods, was No. 10 in Golf Digest’s Top 100 teacher rankings released this fall.

Foley sees a lot coming together in Smith’s game. She is a 12-year veteran building some momentum. She tied for third at the Women’s Australian Open earlier this year and is coming off three consecutive top-15 finishes in Asia. She is sixth on tour in birdies this season. 

“As a coach, you try to get a player to see something in themselves that is already there,” Foley said.

Rose, by the way, opened with a 6-under-par 66 in Dubai and is one shot off the lead.

Seeking awards sweep, Park 1 off lead

By Randall MellNovember 16, 2017, 11:03 pm

NAPLES, Fla. – Sung Hyun Park made a strong start in her bid to make LPGA history with an epic sweep of the year’s major awards.

Park opened the CME Group Tour Championship Thursday with a 5-under-par 67, moving her a shot off the lead.

Park is looking to join Nancy Lopez as the only players to win the Rolex Player of the Year and Rolex Rookie of the Year awards in the same season. Lopez did it in 1978. Park has already clinched the Rookie of the Year Award.

Park, 24, can also walk away with the Vare Trophy for low scoring average, the LPGA money-winning title and the Race to the CME Globe’s $1 million jackpot.


CME Group Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship


Nobody has ever swept all those awards.

There’s even more for Park to claim. She can also take back the Rolex world No. 1 ranking. She’s No. 2, just two hundredths of a point behind Shanshan Feng.

“I think the course suits my game really well,” Park said through a translator. “I think I can play well in the next rounds.”

Park played the course just once before Thursday’s start, in Wednesday’s pro-am.

The reigning U.S. Women’s Open champion, Park won twice this year. She also won the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open this summer.