Wie Qualifies for US Womens Open
Thirteen-year-old Michelle Wie birdied the first hole of a playoff at a sectional qualifying event Monday, giving her one of the last bids to the upcoming major tournament.
She struggled early at the Country Club of Heathrow, north of Orlando, with three straight bogeys in her first six holes, but rallied with an even-par final round to reach the playoff.
'As she teed up, she said 'Let's make birdie so we can get out of here,'' said her father and caddie, B.J. Wie, a University of Hawaii professor. 'So, she made a birdie.'
The U.S. Women's Open will be played at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club in North Plains, Ore., on July 3-6.
Also winning a berth in the playoff was 15-year-old Morgan Pressel.
Wie and Pressel, part of golf's growing wave of talent, were tied with Elisabeth Esteril at 5-over 147s after the 36-hole qualifier.
The three began the playoff with solid drives on a 369-yard par-4, an uphill dogleg left. Wie stuck a 6-iron from 160 yards within 4 feet of the pin.
'I didn't know I hit it that well,' said Wie, who had unsuccessfully tried twice before to qualify for the Open. 'I was just hoping to get it on the green, two-putt and, if someone missed or makes a mistake, then, oh well. But I hit it better than I expected.'
Esteril hit into a sand trap before Pressel knocked the ball into the fringe. Esteril couldn't make the sand save and Pressel two-putted for par, setting up Wie's putt as the clincher.
Wie said she entered the qualifier in Florida because it is close to her coach Gary Gilchrist, who works at the David Leadbetter Golf Academy in Bradenton.
'I had a feeling I was going to (qualify) because I make everything on my third try,' Wie said. 'I got to the Open on my third try, I got to the U.S. Juniors on my third try, I got to the U.S. Amateur on my third try.'
This will be the second major for Wie. At the Kraft Nabisco Championship in March, she shot a 6-under 66 to get into the final group Sunday before finishing ninth.
'She can win (the Open),' B.J. Wie said.
Pressel, two years ago the youngest player to ever qualify for the Open, was looking forward to Wie's presence at the major.
'It's a good thing. That takes a lot of pressure off my back,' she said.
The Open will be just one highlight of what promises to be a busy summer for Wie, nicknamed 'The Big Wiesy.' She's already agreed to compete against the men at the Nationwide Tour's Albertsons Boise Open, and the Canadian Tour's Bay Mills Open Players' Championship. There also will be some appearances on the LPGA Tour.
Despite Wie's gender and precocious age, her drives approach 300 yards -- but it was a poor short game that nearly doomed her in the qualifier.
On the par-3 4th, her tee shot missed the green and she pushed her par putt right. The next hole saw her miss a 3-foot putt for par and a 2-footer for par on No. 6 also missed. She later double-bogeyed No. 11 and waited until the final hole to collect her first birdie and finish at 5 over.
'I was pretty worried after my 76 because I wasn't hitting as well as I wanted to,' Wie said.
Wie's poor hitting, according to her father, could be blamed on her failure to compensate for the damp grounds caused by a morning shower.
'First round, her club selection was off -- mostly under-club,' B.J Wie said. 'She was lacking experience. She didn't realize that when you hit the ball in wet conditions, you lose about 10 yards.
'She didn't believe that; now, she believes that.'
The qualifier gave a glimpse into the future, as four of the six players to receive Open bids are teenagers.
'It's really great,' said Wie, who turns 14 in October, 'because I'm not that weird anymore.'
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Day's wife shares emotional story of miscarriage
Jason Day’s wife revealed on social media that the couple had a miscarriage last month.
Ellie Day, who announced her pregnancy on Nov. 4, posted an emotional note on Instagram that she lost the baby on Thanksgiving.
Swipe to see what’s up in my world. It’s long-winded.... short version, we lost the baby. Had to share this since we had shared the news already. I know you’re all so supportive and kind. I just couldn’t face it before. Now let’s get back to our regularly scheduled programming. #ihavealotoffeelings #andphotostocatchupon
“I found out the baby had no heartbeat anymore. I was devastated,” she wrote. “I snuck out the back door of my doctor, a hot, sobbing, mascara-covered mess. Two and a half weeks went by witih me battling my heart and brain about what was happening in my body, wondering why this wouldn’t just be over.”
The Days, who have two children, Dash and Lucy, decided to go public to help others who have suffered similar heartbreak.
“I hope you know you aren’t alone and I hope you feel God wrap his arms around you when you feel the depths of sorrow and loss,” she wrote.
Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia
This was the year it finally happened for Sergio Garcia.
The one-time teen phenom, known for years as “El Nino,” entered the Masters as he had dozens of majors beforehand – shouldered with the burden of being the best player without a major.
Garcia was 0-for-72 driving down Magnolia Lane in April, but after a thrilling final round and sudden-death victory over Justin Rose, the Spaniard at long last captured his elusive first major title.
The expectation for years was that Garcia might land his white whale on a British links course, or perhaps at a U.S. Open where his elite ball-striking might shine. Instead it was on the storied back nine at Augusta National that he came alive, chasing down Rose thanks in part to a memorable approach on No. 15 that hit the pin and led to an eagle.
A green jacket was only the start of a transformative year for Garcia, 37, who heaped credit for his win on his then-fiancee, Angela Akins. The two were married in July, and months later the couple announced that they were expecting their first child to arrive just ahead of Garcia’s return to Augusta, where he'll host his first champions’ dinner.
And while players often cling to the notion that a major win won’t intrinsically change them, there was a noticeable difference in Garcia over the summer months. The weight of expectation, conscious or otherwise, seemed to lift almost instantly. Like other recent Masters champs, he took the green jacket on a worldwide tour, with stops at Wimbledon and a soccer match between Real Madrid and Barcelona.
The player who burst onto the scene as a baby-faced upstart is now a grizzled veteran with nearly two decades of pro golf behind him. While the changes this year occurred both on and off the course, 2017 will always be remembered as the year when Garcia finally, improbably, earned the title of major champion.
Green jacket tour
Man of the people
Ace at 17th at Sawgrass
Departure from TaylorMade
Squashed beef with Paddy
Victory at Valderrama
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. 4: Dec. 13
No. 3: Dec. 14
No. 2: Dec. 15
No. 1: Dec. 18
Montana parents can't watch kids play high school golf
Well, this is a one new one.
According to a report from KTVQ in Montana, this line in the Montana State High School Association rule book all but forbids spectators from observing high school golf in that state:
“No spectators/fans are allowed on the course except for certain locations as designated by the tournament manager and club professional.”
Part of the issue, according to the report, is that most courses don't bother to designate those "certain locations" leaving parents unable to watch their kids compete.
“If you tell a parent that they can’t watch their kid play in the Thanksgiving Day football game, they would riot,” Chris Kelley, a high school golf parent, told KTVQ.
The report lists illegal outside coaching as one of the rule's chief motivations, but Montana State women's golf coach Brittany Basye doesn't quite buy that.
“I can go to a softball game and I can sit right behind the pitcher. I can make hand signals,” she is quoted in the report. “I can yell out names. I can do the same thing on a softball field that might affect that kid. Football games we can yell as loud as we want when someone is making a pass or a catch.”
The MHSA has argued that unlike other sports that are played in a confined area, the sprawling nature of a golf course would make it difficult to hire enough marshals to keep unruly spectators in check.
Meanwhile, there's a lawyer quoted in the report claiming this is some kind of civil rights issue.
Worth note, Montana is one of only two states that doesn't allow spectators on the course. The other state, Alaska, does not offer high school golf.