Wie Making Fitness a Priority

By Associated PressJanuary 11, 2006, 5:00 pm
2006 Sony OpenHONOLULU -- For a girl with such grandiose dreams, even Michelle Wie thought the bar was set too high.
 
It was one of her first exercises late last year with Paul Gagne, a fitness guru who spends most of his time with hockey players, and the task was a simple pull-up. Wie jumped up to grab the bar, and her 6-foot frame dangled in the air for a few seconds before she tried to lift herself. She barely moved a few inches.
 
When the workout was over, Wie said she was so sore she couldn't lift her arms to wash her hair in the shower.
 
'It was way too painful,' she said. 'My New Year's Resolution is to cut down on sugar and not be as lazy. That means going to the gym a lot more. My goal is to get fit, get stronger and prevent injury.'
 
Her ultimate goal remains the same - to play golf against the best in the world.
 
The next chance comes Thursday in the Sony Open, the first full-field event on the PGA Tour where Wie has become a regular fixture. It will be her seventh time competing against the men, and fourth time on the PGA Tour as she tries to become the first woman since Babe Zaharias in 1945 to make the cut.
 
But the junior at nearby Punahou School no longer emphasizes getting to the weekend. The older she gets, the farther along in her unique journey, she has paid less attention to results and more on hitting the right shots.
 
How does she measure success?
 
'If at the end of the week I felt good about the week, I had a lot of fun and I played as hard as I can,' she said.
 
Her newfound dedication to fitness is one example of Wie seeing a bigger picture.
 
Swing coach David Leadbetter said her upper body strength was woefully lacking, and he brought in Gagne for help. In the last few months, he said Wie has increased her ball speed about 5 mph to 161 mph, which he compared favorably with the 166 mph ball speed of Justin Rose.
 
Wie has added about eight pounds of muscle, which Leadbetter says has given her more strength to hold the club in the proper position at the top of the swing.
 
'Look at what strength training did for Annika (Sorenstam),' Leadbetter said. 'Michelle tended to shy away from it. But once we pointed out the benefits, it's a full program she has to work on. When you've got the talent she has, it's a matter of getting your ducks in a row. She's game for it. She's starting to enjoy it.'
 
Even so, Wie will be measured this week by the scores on her card, and whether she finishes among the top 70 players and ties over the first two rounds.
 
The defending champion is Vijay Singh, and the field includes three-time Mercedes Championships winner Stuart Appleby, Mike Weir, David Toms and Adam Scott.
 
Scott finished behind her two years ago and paid dearly. When he got to Bay Hill, swing coach Butch Harmon had plastered pictures of Wie inside his locker.
 
'It's a big week for us, a big week for me,' Scott said with a smile. 'Two years ago she almost made it. If she putts really well, she can make the cut.'
 
Even so, the novelty is wearing off the more she plays, and the older she gets.
 
Three players at the Sony Open have never played a PGA Tour event, having earned their way through qualifying school. Wie already has played four tour events, and dozens of rounds at Waialae getting ready for this week.
 
'I was expecting a good player, but not a seasoned player,' said Sean O'Hair, the PGA Tour rookie of the year, after playing a practice round with Wie on Tuesday. 'She seems like she's been doing this a while.'
 
She has.
 
Mark Calcavecchia is among those who wonder why she doesn't concentrate more on the LPGA Tour, where she had three runner-up finishes last year, two of them in majors. He doesn't mind her playing the Sony Open, because Wie grew up in Honolulu and is a huge draw this week.
 
'I think she should try to win some LPGA tournaments first and go from there,' he said.
 
These are suggestions Wie has heard before, and she's not about to change. Now that she's a pro, she might add two more PGA Tour events this year.
 
'Playing with the guys has made me a better player,' she said. 'With that experience and knowledge, I think it will help me win women's events. That's my goal - to win with the women's events.'
 
Leadbetter wouldn't put a timetable on when that might happen, although the sooner the better. The last time Wie hoisted a trophy was as a 13-year-old at the U.S. Women's Amateur Public Links. He said one problem was her schedule, which includes nine months of high school.
 
'You don't set the goal to win,' he said. 'You set the goal of becoming more proficient, hitting more fairways, becoming a better putter. There's no doubt she's going to win, and when she wins, she's going to win a lot.'
 
Meanwhile, Wie has shifted her attention to the journey instead of the score. That meant listening to her parents, which is not easy for a teenager.
 
'My parents would say that and I would think, 'It's the results that matter,'' she said. 'But as I get older, I'm realizing it's the road you take that's the most important thing. There is so much to learn from the guys. They have so much to offer, and I'm soaking it all in.'
 
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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.