Wie Ready to Take on Men Again

By Associated PressJanuary 7, 2006, 5:00 pm
2006 Sony OpenKAPALUA, Hawaii -- Michelle Wie is starting to feel the stress.
 
She has been a professional golfer for three months and already is worth more than some men who have been playing longer than she has been alive, with endorsement deals that could reach $10 million and more than $1 million for an appearance fee to play overseas.
 
Michelle Wie
Michelle Wie will again be under intense scrutiny as she attempts to make her first cut on the PGA Tour.
She makes news wherever she goes.
 
In her professional debut at the Samsung World Championship, she was disqualified for taking a bad drop in the third round, an infraction that a magazine writer waited one day to point out to a rules official. Then at the Casio World Open in Japan, she bogeyed the last two holes to miss the cut by one shot.
 
But that's not what has her nerves a little frayed.
 
Like any other 16-year-old, Wie had to get through her semester exams in her junior year of high school.
 
'Oh my God, don't remind me,' Wie said earlier this week from Ko Olina Golf Club, where she took a break from studying to work on her golf game. 'I have to take my quarter tests and my semester exams.'
 
It started with a chapter test in Japanese on Tuesday. Chemistry and Japanese midterms, plus her quarterly test in math, came on Wednesday. The midterm for math was on Thursday.
 
And then comes another big test.
 
Wie will try for the fourth time to become the first woman since Babe Zaharias in 1945 to make the cut on the PGA Tour when she joins 143 men at the Sony Open.
 
Her legend took root at Waialae Country Club two years ago at age 14 when she shot 68 in the second round -- the lowest score by a female competing on a men's tour -- to miss the cut by one shot. Last year brought wind and not nearly as many putts made, and Wie shot 75-74 to miss the cut by seven shots.
 
Then came the John Deere Classic, where thousands of boisterous fans thought they would witness history until Wie made double bogey on her 16th hole and again narrowly missed the cut.
 
There is a sense the novelty is wearing off, and there might come a time when Wie playing on the PGA Tour attracts only passing interest.
 
But people still talk about it.
 
They still watch.
 
'I was on the opposite side of the golf course, and there's nobody out there watching us play golf,' David Toms said of the John Deere Classic, where he tied for 40th that week. 'You knew where she was the whole time. It was almost like a Tiger-type following. You know where she was on the golf course. That says a lot. I don't think that wears off until that goes away for some reason. I just don't see that happening any time soon.'
 
Some see Wie as a work in progress, noting her steady improvement on the LPGA Tour (she finished in the top three in two majors last year) and how close she has come to making the cut against the men.
 
Others look at her trophy case, which has been empty since winning the U.S. Women's Amateur Public Links at age 13, making her the youngest winner of a USGA title with no age restrictions.
 
And there always will be those who wonder if Wie seriously thinks she can beat the guys.
 
'She's going to make a cut eventually,' Mark Calcavecchia said. 'She's never going to win, period. Maybe once she makes a cut, she'll forget about it. Should she play in Hawaii? Sure. I don't have a problem with her playing there. That's where she's from. I think she should try to win some LPGA tournaments first and go from there.'
 
Wie embarks on what could be a fascinating season, her first full year as a pro. She has gone from making cuts to becoming a regular fixture on leaderboards on the LPGA Tour, with four top-three finishes in eight starts last year. She is adding even more length, and is capable of hitting shots few other women can imagine.
 
Swing coach David Leadbetter said Wie has been working with Paul Gagne, a physiologist who deals mostly with hockey players, to work on her upper-body strength. He believes a stronger Wie will lead to more length off the tee -- citing Annika Sorenstam as an example -- and allow her to get more balance in her swing.
 
She also is working on her putting, the one thing holding her back at this stage. It doesn't help that Wie lives in Hawaii, which has only one variety of grass on the greens.
 
'The thing she has over all the other girls is great shotmaking,' Leadbetter said. 'She can draw it, fade it, and around the green she has a tremendous variety of shots. Those girls are one dimensional. Obviously, that's why Annika enjoys playing with Tiger, because he helps her with the short game.'
 
Wie plans a practice round Tuesday with Sean O'Hair and Justin Rose, two other Leadbetter clients. Wie played the last two years with Ernie Els, picking up tips around the green.
 
'Playing PGA Tour events makes her better,' Leadbetter said. 'I think she gets psyched watching the guys and seeing their ability. It raises her level. It helps her up the ladder of improvement.'
 
Winning is the next step against the women.
 
Playing four days is the next step against the men.
 
'This is the third one (at the Sony Open), and they expect me to make the cut,' Wie said. 'I expect myself to play better, but I don't feel any extra pressure. I have a goal in mind -- consistent, under-par rounds. A lot can happen in two days. Hopefully, everything will come together.'
 
Her game steadily is improving. Her 6-foot frame -- she's been that tall since she was 13 -- is getting lean. The only noticeable difference is her age, although it still staggers some players on the PGA Tour that a teen not much older than their children can compete on such a stage.
 
'She's got a great talent,' Jim Furyk said. 'I can't think of a 16-year-old girl who can hit it like that. I'll go beyond that. I don't know too many 16-year-old boys that can go out there and play in a tour event, have that much composure, hit the ball that well. She's definitely one in a million, or one in a billion. That's going to attract attention.'
 
Whatever happens, another big test awaits.
 
On the Tuesday after the Sony Open, Wie goes for her driver's license.
 
'I haven't even learned to parallel park yet,' she said.
 
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - Sony Open in Hawaii
  • Getty Images

    Angela hits Sergio in stride on field at Superdome

    By Grill Room TeamDecember 18, 2017, 3:22 pm

    Sergio and Angela Garcia's super 2017 keeps getting more ... Super ... Dome. (+1 awful blog lede.)

    The couple started the year with Sergio's win at the Masters, then embarked on a whirlwind green jacket media tour, then kicked off El Clasico, then attended Wimbledon, then got married, then announced they were expecting their first child ...


    2017 Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia


    And now, they're throwing each other passes on the New Orleans Saints' home turf at the Superdome.

    Man, it must be so cool do that at the Silverdome. ... ... ... I'm sorry, it is the Superdome, brothers.

    Newsmaker of the Year: No. 1, Justin Thomas

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 18, 2017, 1:00 pm

    He won a major, captured the FedExCup and was named the PGA Tour’s Player of the Year. It should come as no surprise that Justin Thomas holds the top spot on our Newsmakers list for 2017.

    Thomas entered the year ranked outside the top 20, and few might have pegged him for a transcendent campaign. But he kicked off January with a win in Hawaii, added another before leaving the Aloha State and never looked back.

    Thomas’ seminal moment came in August when he captured the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow for his breakthrough major title. One month after greeting Jordan Spieth behind the final green at Royal Birkdale, this time it was Thomas’ turn to have friends stick around to snap pictures with the trophy that signaled his arrival among golf’s upper echelon.


    Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year


    In addition to racking up the hardware – five in total, including the inaugural CJ Cup at Nine Bridges in his first start of the new wraparound season – Thomas dazzled with style. His runaway win at the Sony Open included an opening-round 59, and his third-round 63 at Erin Hills marked the first time anyone had ever shot 9 under on a U.S. Open venue.

    Thomas’ consistency was rewarded at East Lake, when a runner-up finish at the Tour Championship netted him the season-long title and $10 million prize. It was in the subsequent press conference where he shared the goals list he had written into his cell phone in February, having ticked off nearly every one. It showed a dedicated attention to detail as well the tactical approach with which Thomas had steered his rapid ascent.

    Heading into a new year, he’s now very clearly entrenched as one of the world’s best. And as his career progresses, it’s likely we’ll look back at 2017 as the point where Thomas first transformed great potential into eye-popping results.

    Win No. 1: Title defense at the CIMB Classic

    Article: Thomas (64) rallies to defend CIMB title


    Win Nos. 2 and 3: The Hawaiian double

    Article: Thomas refuses to let disastrous hole derail TOC win

    Article: Worst week ever ends with another title at Sony Open


    Record Round No. 1: 59 at the Sony Open

    Article: Thomas becomes youngest player to shoot 59

    Take a look: Thomas’ scorecard from his amazing 59


    Record Round No. 2: 63 at the U.S. Open

    Article: Thomas sets U.S. Open record with 9-under 63


    Temporary Slide: Open MC makes it three in a row

    Watch: Thomas loses club, makes 9, misses Open cut


    Mr. Major (and win No. 4): PGA champ at Quail Hollow

    Article: Thomas joins the club – the major club


    Win No. 5: Dell Technologies Championship

    Article: Thomas wins the battle of buddies over Spieth


    The $10 Million Man: FedExCup champ


    Biggest Win of All? Player of the Year


    And One to Grow On: Wins at CJ Cup in 2017-18 season

    Article: Thomas caps torrid 12-month run with CJ Cup win


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    Best of: Justin Thomas and Jillian Wisniewski

    Best of: Justin Thomas through the years

    Cabreras win PNC Father/Son Challenge

    By Associated PressDecember 17, 2017, 11:36 pm

    ORLANDO, Fla. - Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. closed with a 12-under 60 for a three-shot victory in their debut at the PNC Father/Son Challenge.

    The Cabreras opened with a 59 at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club and were challenged briefly by the defending champions, David Duval and Nick Karavites, in the scramble format Sunday. The Argentines went out in 30, and they had a two-shot lead with Cabrera's son came within an inch of chipping in for eagle on the final hole.

    They finished at 25-under 199 for a three-shot victory over Duval and Karavites, and Bernhard Langer and Jason Langer. The Langer team won in 2014.

    Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara tied for fourth at 21 under with Jerry Pate and Wesley Pate.

    Cabrera wasn't even in the field until two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange and his son, Tom Strange, had to withdraw.

    Duval and his stepson went out in 28, but the Cabreras regained control by starting the back nine with back-to-back birdies, and then making birdies on the 13th, 14th and 16th. The final birdie allowed them to tie the tournament scoring record.

    ''This is certain my best week of the year,'' said Cabrera, the 2009 Masters champion and 2007 U.S. Open champion at Oakmont. ''To play alongside all the legends ... as well as playing alongside my son, has been the greatest week of the year.''

    The popular event is for players who have won a major championship or The Players Championship. It is a scramble format both days.

    In some cases, the major champions lean on the power of their sons for the distance. O'Meara said Saturday that his ''little man'' hit it 58 yards by him on the 18th. And on Sunday, Stewart Cink said son Reagan told him after outdriving him on the opening four holes, ''In this tournament I may be your son, but right now I'm your Daddy!''

    Jack Nicklaus played with his grandson, G.T. They closed with a 64 and tied for 15th in the field of 20 teams.