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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    Watch: McIlroy gives Fleetwood a birthday cake

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 19, 2018, 2:58 pm

    Tommy Fleetwood turned 27 on Friday. He celebrated with some good golf – a 4-under 68 in Abu Dhabi, leaving him only two shots back in his title defense – and a birthday cake, courtesy of Rory Mcllroy.

    While giving a post-round interview, Fleetwood was surprised to see McIlroy approaching with a cake in hand.

    “I actually baked this before we teed off,” McIlroy joked.

    Fleetwood blew out the three candles – “three wishes!” – and offered McIlroy a slice.  

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    DJ shoots 64 to surge up leaderboard in Abu Dhabi

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 1:48 pm

    Dustin Johnson stood out among a star-studded three-ball that combined to shoot 18 under par with just one bogey Friday at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

    Shaking off a sloppy first round at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, Johnson matched the low round of the day with a 64 that put him within four shots of Thomas Pieters’ lead.

    “I did everything really well,” Johnson said. “It was a pretty easy 64.”

    Johnson made four bogeys during an even-par 72 on Thursday and needed a solid round Friday to make the cut. Before long, he was closer to the lead than the cut line, making birdie on three of the last four holes and setting the pace in a group that also included good rounds from Rory McIlroy (66) and Tommy Fleetwood (68).

    “Everyone was hitting good shots,” McIlroy said. “That’s all we were seeing, and it’s nice when you play in a group like that. You feed off one another.” 


    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


    Coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, Johnson is searching for his first regular European Tour title. He tied for second at this event a year ago.

    Johnson’s second-round 64 equaled the low round of the day (Jorge Campillo and Branden Grace). 

    “It was just really solid all day long,” Johnson said. “Hit a lot of great shots, had a lot of looks at birdies, which is what I need to do over the next two days if I want to have a chance to win on Sunday.” 

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    Closing eagle moves Rory within 3 in Abu Dhabi

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 12:57 pm

    What rust? Rory McIlroy appears to be in midseason form.

    Playing competitively for the first time since Oct. 8, McIlroy completed 36 holes without a bogey Friday, closing with an eagle to shoot 6-under 66 to sit just three shots back at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

    “I’m right in the mix after two days and I’m really happy in that position,” he told reporters afterward.

    McIlroy took a 3 ½-month break to heal his body, clear his mind and work on his game after his first winless year since 2008, his first full season as a pro.

    He's back on track at a familiar playground, Abu Dhabi Golf Club, where he’s racked up eight top-11s (including six top-3s) in his past nine starts there.


    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


    McIlroy opened with a 69 Thursday, then gave himself even more chances on Day 2, cruising along at 4 under for the day when he reached the par-5 closing hole. After launching a 249-yard long iron to 25 feet, he poured in the eagle putt to pull within three shots of Thomas Pieters (65). 

    Despite the layoff, McIlroy edged world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, by a shot over the first two rounds. 

    “DJ is definitely the No. 1 player in the world right now, and one of, if not the best, driver of the golf ball," McIlroy said. "To be up there with him over these first two days, it proves to me that I’m doing the right things and gives me a lot of confidence going forward.”

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    Duke to fill in for injured Pavin at CareerBuilder

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 12:25 pm

    Ken Duke will fill in for Corey Pavin for the next two rounds of the CareerBuilder Challenge – with nothing at stake but his amateur partner’s position on the leaderboard.

    Pavin was 4 over par when he withdrew after 17 holes Thursday because of a neck injury. Tournament officials contacted Duke, the first alternate, and asked if he would take Pavin’s spot and partner with Luis Lopez for the next two rounds, even though he would not receive any official money.

    Duke accepted and explained his decision on Twitter:

    Playing on past champion’s status, the 48-year-old Duke has made only four starts this season, with a best finish of a tie for 61st at the RSM Classic.

    Pavin received a sponsor exemption into the event, his first PGA Tour start since the 2015 Colonial.