Wie Has Modest Goals as LPGA Season Tees Off
'Oh my God,' the 12-year-old player said Wednesday. 'I have to make up a Chinese test and a math test and a speech.'
Wie, the youngest player to earn a spot in an LPGA Tour event through a Monday qualifier, will join top stars Annika Sorenstam, Juli Inkster and defending champion Lorie Kane in the season-opening Takefuji Classic that begins Thursday.
'My goal now is just to make the cut,' Wie said. 'After that, I'm going to try and make the top 10.'
In high wind Monday on the 6,165-yard oceanside Waikoloa Beach Resort course, Wie had an 83, including 10 penalty strokes.
'I was in the lava every other hole,' she said. 'The wind makes it really hard to keep it on the fairway.'
The seventh grader from Honolulu broke the Monday qualifier age record of 14 set by Natalie Gulbis in the 1997 Longs Drug Challenge. Beverly Klass is the youngest player to compete on the LPGA Tour, playing four events in 1967 at age 10.
The wind has settled since Monday, but is still a major factor.
'I don't mind the wind, but nobody wants to see ridiculous golf,' Kane said. 'Whoever becomes champion is obviously going to have a lot of patience.'
Sorenstam, the 2001 Player of the Year who opened the season last week in Australia with a playoff victory over Karrie Webb, said she doesn't feel any pressure to repeat her eight-win season, the most since Nancy Lopez did it in 1979.
'I know last year was an amazing season for me, but I don't think anything is impossible,' she said. 'I'm going to keep working and I think I can do it again.'
Kane said getting back into form following the offseason shouldn't be too difficult.
'What's different is we're walking,' she said. '(In the offseason), you tend to play cart golf. If there's anything rusty, it's my feet.'
She met Wie for the first time in the clubhouse Wednesday.
'Wow, you are tall,' Kane said.
Wie, who stands at 5-foot-10 and wears a size 9 men's shoe, said she often gets questioned about her age. More so, following last year's Little League debacle with pitcher Danny Almonte.
Her father, B.J. Wie, said his daughter's age also comes into question while paying the children's price at buffets.
'People always ask, 'What do you feed her?' ' he said.
The minimum age to join the LPGA Tour is 18, but Wie doesn't plan on turning pro until she's 22. She wants to finish college before joining the tour.
Sorenstam said Wie should just enjoy her experience and not rush into things.
'Twelve is when I started (golf),' Sorenstam said. 'My handicap was 63. I don't think I would've qualified here.'
Wie said being from Hawaii gives her a slight edge.
'I'm used to the greens, but not to the wind,' she said.
She'll play conservative this week and not try to blast her drives, which average 280 yards.
In early February, Wie became the first female to qualify for the Hawaii Pearl Open, which typically attracts many of Japan's top golfers. She played off the men's tees and finished in the top half, but missed the cut.
Wie turned to men's events last year after winning Hawaii's premier women's amateur tournament, beating the defending champion by nine strokes.
Wie said she won't get nervous or rattled about playing against pros or veterans -- like Betsy King who joined the tour in 1977, 12 years before Wie was born.
'She has nothing to lose,' her father said.
Lexi 'applaud's USGA, R&A for rules change
Lexi Thompson’s pain may prove to be the rest of golf’s gain.
David Rickman, the R&A’s executive director of governance, acknowledged on Golf Channel’s "Morning Drive" Monday that the new protocols that will eliminate the use of TV viewer call-ins and emails to apply penalties was hastened by the controversy following Thompson’s four-shot penalty at the ANA Inspiration in early April. The new protocols also set up rules officials to monitor TV broadcasts beginning next year.
“Clearly, that case has been something of a focus point for us,” Rickman said.
Thompson reacted to the new protocols in an Instagram post.
“I applaud the USGA and the R&A for their willingness to revise the Rules of Golf to address certain unfortunate situations that have arisen several times in the game of golf,” Thompson wrote. “In my case, I am thankful no one else will have to deal with an outcome such as mine in the future.”
Thompson was penalized two shots for improperly returning her ball to its mark on a green during Saturday’s round after a viewer emailed LPGA officials during Sunday’s broadcast. She was penalized two more shots for signing an incorrect scorecard for her Saturday round. Thompson ultimately lost in a playoff to So Yeon Ryu.
The new protocols will also eliminate the additional two-shot penalty a player receives for failing to include a penalty when a player was unaware of the penalty.
Shortly after the ANA Inspiration, the USGA and R&A led the formation of a video review working group, which included the PGA Tour, LPGA, European Tour, Ladies European Tour and PGA of America.
Also, just three weeks after Thompson was hit with the four-shot penalty, the USGA and R&A released a new Rules of Golf decision decision (34-3/10) limiting video evidence in two ways:
1. If an infraction can’t be seen with the naked eye, there’s no penalty, even if video shows otherwise.
2. If a tournament committee determines that a player does “all that can be reasonably expected to make an accurate estimation or measurement” in determining a line or position to play from or to spot a ball, then there will be no penalty even if video replay later shows that to be wrong.
While the USGA and R&A said the new decision wasn’t based on Thompson’s ANA incident, LPGA players immediately began calling it the “Lexi Rule.”
PGA Tour, LPGA react to video review rules changes
The USGA and R&A announced on Monday updates to the Rules of Golf, including no longer accepting call-ins relating to violations. The PGA Tour and LPGA, which were both part of a working group of entities who voted on the changes, issued the following statements:
The PGA Tour has worked closely with the USGA and R&A on this issue in recent years, and today's announcement is another positive step to ensure the Rules of Golf align with how the game is presented and viewed globally. The PGA Tour will adopt the new Local Rule beginning January 1, 2018 and evolve our protocols for reviewing video evidence as outlined.
We are encouraged by the willingness of the governing bodies to fully vet the issues and implement real change at a pace much quicker than the sport has seen previously. These new adaptations, coupled with changes announced earlier this year, are true and meaningful advances for the game. The LPGA plans to adopt fully the protocols and new Local Rule as outlined.
Sharma closes on Monday, wins Joburg Open
JOHANNESBURG – Shubhankar Sharma won his first European Tour title by a shooting 3-under 69 Monday in the final round of the weather-delayed Joburg Open.
The 21-year-old Indian resumed his round on the eighth green after play was halted early Sunday afternoon because of storms. He parred that hole, birdied No. 9 and made par on every hole on the back nine.
Sharma finished at 23-under 264, three strokes ahead of the pack, and qualified for next year's British Open, too.
''I actually wasn't going to come here about a week ago ... so I'm really happy that I came,'' said Sharma, who shot 61 in the second round. ''I don't think I'm ever going forget my first time in South Africa.''
Erik van Rooyen (66) was second, three strokes ahead of Shaun Norris (65) and Tapio Pulkkanen (68).
Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017
GolfChannel.com is counting down the top 10 Newsmakers of the Year as voted on by Golf Channel’s writers, editors, reporters and producers. Check out the list below, including future release dates:
No. 5: Dec. 12
No. 4: Dec. 13
No. 3: Dec. 14
No. 2: Dec. 15
No. 1: Dec. 18