Wie Makes Statement in Debut

By Associated PressFebruary 21, 2008, 5:00 pm
2007 Fields OpenKAPOLEI, Hawaii -- Michelle Wie was in a fist-shaking frenzy.
She was even about to unleash a celebratory right uppercut but reeled it back in at the last second when her 10-foot par putt on her final hole Thursday lipped out.
Coming off a horrendous season where she couldve left her hands in her pockets, no one is blaming Wie for showing some enthusiasm and smiling again.
Wie got off to a promising start in her first tournament round of the year, shooting a 3-under 69 in the Fields Open, and hopes to carry the momentum into Fridays second round, and beyond.
Felt good to be back into it, she said. It felt good to make positive shots and make positive putts and to have that feeling where youre going under par and youre going low and you can produce any kind of shot you want.
Showing virtually no signs of the wrist injuries that plagued her last year, Wie broke 70 for the first time since the Evian Ladies Masters in July 2006, a tournament where she tied for second and earned her largest LPGA Tour check.
This round is definitely a confidence booster, and hopefully over the next few days, itll just get better and better, Wie said.
First-time caddie Tim Vickers, who was sweating more than Wie, was on the bag. Wie said they were a good team.
It was a new start, new caddie and new frame of mind for Wie.
She has repeated her strategies, or catch phrases, that she plans to live by this year. They include: Having nothing to prove to anyone. Enjoying life. Forgetting about last year. Not getting ahead of herself. And the one shes repeating over and over, stay in the present.
I feel like I accomplished that goal today, she said.
Jeong Jang, the 2005 Womens British Open champion, opened with an 8-under 64, making nine birdies in a spectacular 16-hole stretch. Paula Creamer shot a 66, birdieing the last three holes for a 5-under 31 on the back nine.
Annika Sorenstam, trying to complete a Hawaiian sweep after winning at the season-opening SBS Open at Turtle Bay for her 70th LPGA Tour title, opened with a 70.
The wide-open layout at Ko Olina was defenseless for most of the day, perfect for Wie to start the year.
The 18-year-old Wie looked relaxed and seemed to gain more confidence with each shot, playing on her home island of Oahu in front of a familiar gallery that ballooned as she moved up the leaderboard. She demonstrated a solid short game and seem a little hesitant off the tees early, especially with the driver.
She used her driver just twice on her front side, on the par 5s. She pulled it out five times on the back nine.
This round is definitely a confidence booster, and hopefully over the next few days itll just get better and better, she said.
The crowd cheered every birdie and offered encouraging words at every hole. She was followed by her entourage that included her enthusiastic parents, swing coach David Leadbetter and two handlers from the William Morris Agency, including Matthew Shin, a former Stanford golfer and the newest addition to Team Wie.
Before the tournament, Leadbetter said Wie was noticeably healthier, stronger and swinging better.
You design a swing around a body type. Unfortunately, when that body is not there, the swing doesnt work, he said. Thats what really happened last year.
Wie, a Stanford freshman, was in the first group off the 10th tee and made her move after the turn. She birdied four of five holes to take the early lead at 4 under.
Wie got into a little trouble in the sand late, finishing bogey-par-birdie-bogey.
Jang dropped almost everything she touched. She put on a clinic with her wedges, which set up a string of four 1-foot birdies in the middle of the round.
The 27-year-old South Korean caught Creamer with a 1-foot birdie putt on the par-5 fifth and cruised right past her. Jang hit a 7-iron to 10 feet on No. 6 and hit the same club off the tee on the par-3 eighth to set up a 15-foot birdie putt.
Shes coming off a strong year, surpassing $1 million in earnings, despite failing to win for the first time in three years. She had nine top-10 finishes to finish seventh on the money list and lost in a playoff to Natalie Gulbis in the Evian Masters.
Both of Wies wrists were injured last year but she kept playing, and struggling. She made only three cuts. In nine starts, she withdrew twice and only broke par twice in 19 rounds against women.
Wie has played well at Ko Olina, missing a playoff by a shot in the inaugural event in 2006.
She is starting the season against the women for the first time in five years. She previously opened at the PGA Tours Sony Open where she nearly made the cut as a 14-year-old when she shot a 68. She didnt play Waialae this year.
Related Links:
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    McCoy earns medalist honors at Web.com Q-School

    By Will GrayDecember 11, 2017, 12:30 am

    One year after his budding career was derailed by a car accident, Lee McCoy got back on track by earning medalist honors at the final stage of Web.com Tour Q-School.

    McCoy shot a final-round 65 at Whirlwind Golf Club in Chandler, Ariz., to finish the 72-hole event at 28 under. That total left him two shots ahead of Sung-Jae Im and guaranteed him fully-exempt status on the developmental circuit in 2018.

    It's an impressive turnaround for the former University of Georgia standout who finished fourth at the 2016 Valspar Championship as an amateur while playing alongside Jordan Spieth in the final round. But he broke his wrist in a car accident the day before second stage of Q-School last year, leaving him without status on any major tour to begin the year.

    McCoy was not the only player who left Arizona smiling. Everyone in the top 10 and ties will be exempt through the first 12 events of the new Web.com Tour season, a group that includes former amateur standouts Curtis Luck (T-3), Sam Burns (T-10) and Maverick McNealy (T-10).

    Players who finished outside the top 10 but inside the top 45 and ties earned exemptions into the first eight events of 2018. That group includes Cameron Champ (T-16), who led the field in driving at this year's U.S. Open as an amateur, and Wyndham Clark (T-23).

    Everyone who advanced to the final stage of Q-School will have at least conditional Web.com Tour status in 2018. Among those who failed to secure guaranteed starts this week were Robby Shelton, Rico Hoey, Jordan Niebrugge, Joaquin Niemann and Kevin Hall.

    Els honored with Heisman Humanitarian Award

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 10, 2017, 11:41 pm

    The annual Heisman Trophy award ceremony is one of the biggest moments in any football season, but there was a touching non-football moment as well on Saturday night as Ernie Els received the Heisman Humanitarian Award.

    The award, which had been announced in August, recognized Els' ongoing efforts on behalf of his Els for Autism foundation. Els received the award at Manhattan's PlayStation Theater, where Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield won the Heisman Trophy.

    Els, 47, founded Els for Autism in 2009 with his wife after their son, Ben, was diagnosed with autism. Their efforts have since flourished into a 26-acre campus in Jupiter, Fla., and the creation of the Els Center for Excellence in 2015.

    The Heisman Humanitarian Award has been given out since 2006. Past recipients include NBA center David Robinson, NFL running back Warrick Dunn, soccer star Mia Hamm and NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon.

    A native of South Africa, Els won the U.S. Open in 1994 and 1997 and The Open in 2002 and 2012. He has won 19 times on the PGA Tour and was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2011.

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    Monday finish for Joburg Open; Sharma leads by 4

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 10, 2017, 8:57 pm

    Rain, lightning and hail pushed the Joburg Open to a Monday finish, with India’s Shubhankar Sharma holding a four-stroke lead with 11 holes to play in Johannesburg.

    Play is scheduled to resume at 7:30 a.m. local time.

    South Africa’s Erik van Rooyen will have a 3-foot putt for birdie to move within three shots of Sharma wen play resumes at the Randpark Golf Club. Sarma is at 22 under par.

    Tapio Pulkkanen of Finland and James Morrison of England are tied for third at 14 under. Pulkkanen has 10 holes remaining, Morrison 11.

    The top three finishers who are not already exempt, will get spots in next year’s Open Championship at Carnoustie.



    Stricker, O'Hair team to win QBE Shootout

    By Will GrayDecember 10, 2017, 8:55 pm

    It may not count in the official tally, but Steve Stricker is once again in the winner's circle on the PGA Tour.

    Stricker teamed with Sean O'Hair to win the two-person QBE Shootout, as the duo combined for a better-ball 64 in the final round to finish two shots clear of Graeme McDowell and Shane Lowry. It's the second win in this event for both men; Stricker won with Jerry Kelly back in 2009 while O'Hair lifted the trophy with Kenny Perry in 2012.

    Stricker and O'Hair led wire-to-wire in the 54-hole, unofficial event after posting a 15-under 57 during the opening-round scramble.

    "We just really gelled well together," Stricker said. "With his length the first day, getting some clubs into the greens, some short irons for me, we just fed off that first day quite a bit. We felt comfortable with one another."

    Full-field scores from the QBE Shootout

    Stricker won 12 times during his PGA Tour career, most recently at the 2012 Tournament of Champions. More recently the 50-year-old has been splitting his time on the PGA Tour Champions and captained the U.S. to a victory at the Presidents Cup in October. O'Hair has four official Tour wins, most recently at the 2011 RBC Canadian Open.

    Pat Perez and Brian Harman finished alone in third, four shots behind Stricker and O'Hair. Lexi Thompson and Tony Finau, the lone co-ed pairing in the 12-team event, finished among a tie for fourth.