Wie on the Road Back to Cloudy Future

By Associated PressJune 28, 2008, 4:00 pm
U.S. WomenEDINA, Minn. -- Even in some of her lowest moments in golf, Michelle Wie never had so little to gain.
 
She had to return to Interlachen at dawn Saturday to play one hole of the rain-delayed second round at the U.S. Womens Open, no chance of making the cut or even breaking par.
 
From an elevated tee, she gazed down at a gorgeous view of the sun casting its morning light on the ninth fairway. But when play resumed, her tee shot strayed some 30 yards to the right into the shadows of the trees.
 
Such is the plight of someone who once brought so much sizzle to her sport.
 
What looks like hope can turn so quickly into hardship.
 
Wie went from finishing second in a 36-hole qualifier for the U.S. Womens Open to opening with an 81 and making the news that night only because of a quintuple-bogey 9 that all but ended her chances.
 
One week after her best finish on the LPGA Tour in two years, she had another weekend off.
 
It doesnt feel like I played that bad, Wie said after scrambling for a par on No. 9 from about the same position where she made her quintuple bogey on Thursday. Ill just take this as a bad week and go from there.
 
Where shes going is anyones guess.
 
The wrist injuries that made a wreck of her 2007 season have just about healed. Wie showed no sign of pain for two days at Interlachen, and any questions about her power might have been answered on the 17th hole. With the tees moved up to make it play 405 yards, Wie smashed a driver over the bunkers and had a 52-degree sand wedge left to the green.
 
For someone whose psyche was so fragile last year, confidence is slowly being restored. Even after opening with an 81, she was 1 under for the second round until the storms rolled in Friday afternoon and stopped her momentum.
 
But the next month is critical.
 
The 18-year-old from Honolulu was once somewhat dismissive of the LPGA Tour. Now shes desperate to join it.
 
Wie has only three sponsors exemptions left this year, and she likely will need to finish in the top 10 at all of them to earn the equivalent of 80th on the LPGA Tour money list and get her card. Otherwise, Wie could be headed to the first of two stages of qualifying.
 
I think the qualifying conflicts with school, so I probably wont go to that, Wie said earlier in the week, noting it was tough to take one week off at Stanford last fall to play in a tournament. But hopefully, Ill make enough money this year to get exempt for next year. Ill see how it goes. Im having a lot of fun playing good again, so thats all Im focusing on now.
 
However, her father made it sound as though Q-school was a distinct possibility.
 
What other options do we have? he said.
 
The only time Wie had to qualify for a regular LPGA Tour event was the Takefugi Classic in 2002 when she was 12.
 
Exemptions started pouring in after that, and Wie brought so much excitement to the LPGA Tour that rules were changed to allow her to play as often as possible. Instead of a minimum six exemptions, the LPGA stopped counting the U.S. Womens Open and Womens British Open against her limit. The LPGA Championship made an exception in 2004 for a leading amateur'Wie.
 
She remains one of the biggest attractions in womens golf. There is no shortage of tournaments that would love to have her. Why not spend another year taking exemptions?
 
This is no longer the right time for that, B.J. Wie said. That was for high school, not college. We extended that one year because of the injuries.
 
Q-school would not be the worst option.
 
Karrie Webb won the Womens British Open in 1995 at age 20, came to America and earned her card at Q-school despite playing with a broken bone in her hand. She now is in the World Golf Hall of Fame. Morgan Pressel made it through Q-school when she was 17, and a year later became the youngest player at 18 to win an LPGA major. Paula Creamer started out in Q-school and now has five victories.
 
There is work to be done, and there were times when golf looked like anything but fun to Wie.
 
Four hours after she signed for her 81 on Thursday, she had changed clothes and was going through a drill on the putting green. Eight tees were placed around the cup, some 15 feet away, and Wie worked her way around the circle.
 
If she missed the putt, the tee stayed in the ground. Make it, and the tee comes out.
 
She couldnt leave until all the tees were gone.
 
Wie lined up every putt as if it were the 72nd hole of a major, sometimes slapping her knee when the putt burned the edge of the cup and stayed out. When she made one, she snatched the tee out of the ground and angrily threw it toward her bag.
 
This did not look like much fun.
 
When all the tees were gone, she walked up the hill with her head down, the brim of her cap hiding her eyes. Then it was off to the practice range, her mother bringing over a large bucket of balls.
 
The joy comes from shooting lower scores, and Wie received a jolt of confidence on the Ladies European Tour a month ago when she finished sixth in the Ladies German Open with a 14-under 274, seven shots behind the winner.
 
It had been a long time since I shot 14 under, she said. It was like the light bulb switched on.
 
Her hope now is to keep it flickering.
 
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    Monty grabs lead entering final round in season-opener

    By Associated PressJanuary 20, 2018, 4:00 am

    KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Colin Montgomerie shot a second straight 7-under 65 to take a two-shot lead into the final round of the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

    The 54-year-old Scot, a six-time winner on the over-50 tour, didn't miss a fairway on Friday and made five birdies on the back nine to reach 14 under at Hualalai.

    Montgomerie has made 17 birdies through 36 holes and said he will have to continue cashing in on his opportunities.

    ''We know that I've got to score something similar to what I've done – 66, 67, something like that, at least,'' Montgomerie said. ''You know the competition out here is so strong that if you do play away from the pins, you'll get run over. It's tough, but hey, it's great.''


    Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship


    First-round co-leaders Gene Sauers and Jerry Kelly each shot 68 and were 12 under.

    ''I hit the ball really well. You know, all the putts that dropped yesterday didn't drop today,'' Kelly said. ''I was just short and burning edges. It was good putting again. They just didn't go in.''

    David Toms was three shots back after a 66. Woody Austin, Mark Calcavecchia and Doug Garwood each shot 67 and were another shot behind.

    Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was six shots back after a 67.

    The limited-field tournament on Hawaii's Big Island includes last season's winners, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

    ''We've enjoyed ourselves thoroughly here,'' Montgomerie said. ''It's just a dramatic spot, isn't it? If you don't like this, well, I'm sorry, take a good look in the mirror, you know?''

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    The missing link: Advice from successful tour pros

    By Phil BlackmarJanuary 20, 2018, 1:24 am

    Today’s topic is significant in that it underscores the direction golf is headed, a direction that has me a little concerned.

    Now, more than ever, it has become the norm for PGA Tour players to put together a team to assist in all aspects of their career. These teams can typically include the player’s swing coach, mental coach, manager, workout specialist, dietician, physical therapist, short-game guru, doctor, accountant, nanny and wife. Though it often concerns me the player may be missing out when others are making decisions for them, that is not the topic.

    I want to talk about what most players seem to be inexplicably leaving off their teams.

    One of the things that separates great players from the rest of the pack – other than talent – is the great player’s ability to routinely stay comfortable and play with focus and clarity in all situations. Though innate to many, this skill is trainable and can be learned. Don’t get too excited, the details of such a plan are too long and more suited for a book than the short confines of this article.

    So, if that aspect of the game is so important, where is the representative on the player’s team who has stood on the 18th tee with everything on the line? Where is the representative on the team who has experienced, over and over, what the player will be experiencing? In other words, where is the successful former tour player on the team?

    You look to tennis and many players have such a person on their team. These teacher/mentors include the likes of Boris Becker, Ivan Lendl, Jimmy Connors and Brad Gilbert. Why is it not the norm in golf?

    Sure, a few players have sought out the advice of Jack Nicklaus, but he’s not part of a team. The teaching ranks also include some former players like Butch Harmon and a few others. But how many teams include a player who has contended in a major, let alone won one or more?

    I’m not here to argue the value and knowledge of all the other coaches who make up a player’s team. But how can the value of a successful tour professional be overlooked? If I’m going to ask someone what I should do in various situations on the course, I would prefer to include the experienced knowledge of players who have been there themselves.

    This leads me to the second part of today’s message. Is there a need for the professional players to mix with professional teachers to deliver the best and most comprehensive teaching philosophy to average players? I feel there is.

    Most lessons are concerned with changing the student’s swing. Often, this is done with little regard for how it feels to the student because the teacher believes the information is correct and more important than the “feels” of the student. “Stick with it until it’s comfortable” is often the message. This directive methodology was put on Twitter for public consumption a short time back:

    On the other hand, the professional player is an expert at making a score and understands the intangible side of the game. The intangible side says: “Mechanics cannot stand alone in making a good player.” The intangible side understands “people feel things differently”; ask Jim Furyk to swing like Dustin Johnson, or vice versa. This means something that looks good to us may not feel right to someone else.

    The intangible side lets us know that mechanics and feels must walk together in order for the player to succeed. From Ben Hogan’s book:

    “What I have learned I have learned by laborious trial and error, watching a good player do something that looked right to me, stumbling across something that felt right to me, experimenting with that something to see if it helped or hindered, adopting it if it helped, refining it sometimes, discarding it if it didn’t help, sometimes discarding it later if it proved undependable in competition, experimenting continually with new ideas and old ideas and all manner of variations until I arrived at a set of fundamentals that appeared to me to be right because they accomplished a very definite purpose, a set of fundamentals which proved to me they were right because they stood up and produced under all kinds of pressure.”

    Hogan beautifully described the learning process that could develop the swings of great players like DJ, Furyk, Lee Trevino, Jordan Spieth, Nicklaus, etc.

    Bob Toski is still teaching. Steve Elkington is helping to bring us the insight of Jackie Burke. Hal Sutton has a beautiful teaching facility outside of Houston. And so on. Just like mechanics and feels, it’s not either-or – the best message comes from both teachers and players.

    Lately, it seems the scale has swung more to one side; let us not forget the value of insights brought to us by the players who have best mastered the game.

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    Woods, Rahm, Rickie, J-Day headline Torrey field

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 20, 2018, 12:47 am

    Tiger Woods is set to make his 2018 debut.

    Woods is still part of the final field list for next week’s Farmers Insurance Open, the headliner of a tournament that includes defending champion Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson and Jason Day.

    In all, 12 of the top 26 players in the world are teeing it up at Torrey Pines.

    Though Woods has won eight times at Torrey Pines, he hasn’t broken 71 in his past seven rounds there and hasn’t played all four rounds since 2013, when he won. Last year he missed the cut after rounds of 76-72, then lasted just one round in Dubai before he withdrew with back spasms.

    After a fourth back surgery, Woods didn’t return to competition until last month’s Hero World Challenge, where he tied for ninth. 

    Woods has committed to play both the Farmers Insurance Open and next month's Genesis Open at Riviera, which benefits his foundation. 

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    Even on 'off' day, Rahm shoots 67 at CareerBuilder

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 20, 2018, 12:36 am

    Jon Rahm didn’t strike the ball as purely Friday as he did during his opening round at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

    He still managed a 5-under 67 that put him just one shot off the lead heading into the weekend.

    “I expected myself to go to the range (this morning) and keep flushing everything like I did yesterday,” said Rahm, who shot a career-low 62 at La Quinta on Thursday. “Everything was just a little bit off. It was just one of those days.”


    Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


    After going bogey-free on Thursday, Rahm mixed four birdies and two bogeys over his opening six holes. He managed to settle down around the turn, then made two birdies on his final three holes to move within one shot of Andrew Landry (65).

    Rahm has missed only five greens through two rounds and sits at 15-under 129. 

    The 23-year-old Spaniard won in Dubai to end the year and opened 2018 with a runner-up finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. He needs a top-6 finish or better this week to supplant Jordan Spieth as the No. 2 player in the world.