Wie a shot back in first tournament as LPGA pro

By Associated PressFebruary 13, 2009, 5:00 pm
2006 SBS OpenKAHUKU, Hawaii ' Michelle Wie couldnt have picked a better place to try to turn around her game ' and her career.
 
Wie made her much-anticipated debut as a full-fledged LPGA member, birdieing her final three holes for a 6-under 66 in the season-opening SBS Open.
 
I had a couple of shaky driver shots, but overall I played pretty solid, Wie said.
 
Michelle Wie at the SBS Open
Michelle Wie stared down a 6-under 66 Thursday in Hawaii. (Getty Images)
The 19-year-old Wie trailed leader Angela Stanford by a stroke and was tied with rookie of the year and second-ranked Yani Tseng heading into Fridays second round. South Koreas Kyeong Bae had a 67, and Japans Momoko Ueda shot a 68.
 
Wie looked comfortable playing in front of the largest gallery and on her home island of Oahu.
 
There were so many familiar faces out there, she said. Just to see them rooting me on. Just to know theyve been rooting me on for the last how many years. I just felt really comfortable, really grateful and happy to see all of them.
 
It was her first U.S. start since July when she was disqualified from the State Farm Classic after opening with a 67. She earned her tour card in December with a seventh-place tie at Q-school.
 
Now Wie feels she belongs.
 
You feel like youre more, not accepted, but youre more part of something, she said. Its a different feeling, like youre part of something, part of an association, part of a legacy.
 
So I guess that feels a little bit different, but other than that, its pretty much the same.
 
Turtle Bay has always been good to Wie, who is looking for a new beginning.
 
Wie played the first SBS in 2005 as a 15-year-old amateur and tied for second, two strokes behind winner Jennifer Rosales. Wie was the lone amateur in the field and the only player to shoot under par for three rounds.
 
It also was at Turtle Bay in 2006 that she became the first female player to win a local qualifying tournament for the U.S. Open.
 
I guess I did have local knowledge since I grew up here and stuff, but I havent played in Hawaii in a really long time, Wie said. But I guess the thing I felt really comfortable was the fact that I was playing in front of a home crowd.
 
She also finally seems to have her health and confidence back, showing flashes of the player in years past that had limitless potential and dazzled the golf world with her big swing.
 
Wie said the confidence returned when her wrists stopped hurting last year.
 
Every time I hit a good shot, I gained confidence a little bit. And I just realized you dont gain confidence overnight, she said. Its definitely a work in progress.
 
Wie closed the first round with three straight birdies. More than the run of birdies, what defined her round was how she was able to immediately bounce back after a bogey with a birdie.
 
She crawled up the leaderboard with consecutive birdies, including a curling 20-footer on No. 9, to make the turn at 3 under.
 
Wie lost a stroke on the par-4 11th when her tee shot sailed left and found the heavy rough and her 8-footer for par hung on the lip. But she quickly recovered on the next hole after nearly chipping in for eagle.
 
Wie is one of the headliners in a remarkable rookie class. But she isnt the typical rookie. She already has millions in the bank and is making her 49th start on the LPGA Tour, where she qualified for her first event at age 12 and played in the final group of an LPGA major at age 13.
 
Stanford, meanwhile, took advantage of the calm morning conditions. She birdied the first two holes and made the turn at 4 under. She birdied two of her final three holes for the outright lead.
 
The 31-year-old Stanford, ranked No. 8 in the world, is coming off a career-best season where she won two events, broke $1 million for the first time and finished ninth on the money list. The former TCU star had six of her 10 top-10 finishes in the final six events, including wins at the Bell Micro LPGA Classic and Lorena Ochoa Invitational. She also finished sixth in the season-ending ADT Championship.
 
Tseng, who just turned 20 last month, is hoping for a big sophomore season after winning the LPGA Championship and recording five runner-up finishes en route to rookie of the year honors.
 
Last year, she began the year ranked 133rd in the world. This year, shes No. 2 and has her sights set on the top-ranked Ochoa.
 

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    J.Y. Ko wins her first start as an official LPGA member

    By Randall MellFebruary 18, 2018, 4:09 pm

    Make way for Jin Young Ko.

    The South Koreans keep delivering one new star after another to the LPGA ranks, and they aren’t going to disappoint this year.

    Ko made some history Sunday winning the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open, closing with a 3-under-par 69 to claim a wire-to-wire victory. She became the first player in 67 years to win her LPGA debut as a tour member. Beverly Hanson (1951) is the only other player to do so.

    Hyejin Choi, an 18-year-old who just turned pro, is yet another emerging South Korean star looking to crack the LPGA ranks. She finished second Sunday, three shots back after closing with a 67. She played on a sponsor exemption. She is already No. 11 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings and likely to move up when the newest rankings are released. Had Choi won Sunday, she could have claimed LPGA membership for the rest of this season.


    Full-field scores from the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open


    Ko, 22, moved herself into early position to try to follow in Sung Hyun Park’s footsteps. Park won the Rolex Player of the Year and Rolex Rookie of the Year awards last year. She joined Nancy Lopez as the only players to do so. Lopez did it in 1978. Park shared the Player of the Year honor with So Yeon Ryu.

    Ko said winning the Louise Suggs Rookie of the Year Award is a goal, but she didn’t come into the year setting her sights on Player of the Year.

    “I haven’t thought about that yet,” she said.

    Ko finished at 14 under overall.

    It was a good week for rookies. Australia’s Hannah Green (69) finished third.

    Ko claimed LPGA membership this year based on her victory as a non-member at the KEB Hana Bank Championship in South Korea last fall. She’s already a star in South Korea, having won 10 times on the Korean LPGA Tour. She is No. 20 in the world and, like Choi, poised to move up when the newest world rankings are released.

    Former world No. 1 Lydia Ko closed with an even par 72, finishing tied for 19th in her 2018 debut. She is in next week’s field at the Honda LPGA Thailand.

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    Luiten takes title at inaugural Oman Open

    By Associated PressFebruary 18, 2018, 3:25 pm

    MUSCAT, Oman - Joost Luiten of the Netherlands won the inaugural Oman Open on Sunday to break a title drought of nearly 17 months.

    The 32-year-old Dutchman shot a 4-under 68 to finish on 16-under 272, two shots ahead of his friend, England's Chris Wood (69).

    It was Luiten's sixth European Tour title and the first since the 2016 KLM Open.

    Frenchman Julien Guerrier (71) virtually assured that he would not have to go to qualifying school for the 12th time with a third-place finish after a 13-under 275.

    Luiten started with three birdies in his first four holes, but bogeys on the seventh and eighth set him back. On the back nine, he made three birdies, including a key one on the 16th, where he made a 30-foot putt.

    ''It feels great. I didn't know what to expect when I came here but to play a course like this which is in great condition - it's a great technical golf course as well - it was beyond my expectation and to hold the trophy is even better,'' said Luiten, who is expected to rise to No. 65 in the new rankings on Monday.

    ''I had a great start, that's what I was hoping for. I hit some nice ones in close and rolled in a couple of nice putts and that gets you in the right position, where you want to be.


    Full-field scores from the NBO Oman Golf Classic


    ''Unfortunately, I had a couple of bogeys as well on the front nine, but I recovered from that with a couple of nice birdies on the back nine and it was a good battle with Woody.''

    Playing one group ahead, England's Wood was right in the mix and tied with Luiten at 15-under when their fortunes went in opposite directions almost at the same time. On the 17th hole, Wood drove his tee shot into the hazard left and could do no more than chip his ball out for a bogey. Luiten, meanwhile, drained his 30-footer birdie putt on the 16th for a two-shot swing.

    Recovering his form after a series of disappointments, Wood was let down by the loss and said: ''It's golf isn't it? You are never happy.

    ''I played poorly for six or eight months. Would have never thought I would have put myself into contention. And when you do, you feel gutted when you don't win. I am pretty down really, but in the grand scheme of things, when I reflect after a couple of days, I will think it is a big step in the right direction.''

    Luiten's win also got him into the top 10 in the Race to Dubai, securing him a start at the WGC-Mexico Championship in two weeks.

    Frenchman Alexander Levy (70), who was hoping to finish in the top five to push into the top 10 in the Race to Dubai and grab the WGC-Mexico spot himself, did manage a joint fourth place at 11 under, but Luiten's victory kept him 11th.

    The European Tour next moves to Doha for the Qatar Masters starting on Thursday.

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    J.Y. Ko wins Women's Australian Open by three

    By Associated PressFebruary 18, 2018, 3:10 pm

    ADELAIDE, Australia - South Korea's Jin Young Ko shot a 3-under par 69 Sunday to clinch a 3-shot, start-to-finish win the Women's Australian Open.

    Playing in her first tournament as a full LPGA member, Ko shot 65, 69, 71, 69 to lead after all four rounds and to finish with a total of 274, 14-under par at the Kooyonga Golf Club. She is the first player to win her first tournament as an LPGA member in the tour's 67-year history.

    Ko started the day four shots clear of 21-year-old Hannah Green, who was bidding to become the first Australian to win her national crown since Karrie Webb won the last of her five titles in 2014.

    Green played solidly in the final group with Ko, shooting 69 and missing a birdie on the 18th which cost her a share of second place.

    The stiffest challenge Sunday came from Ko's compatriot Hyejin Choi who closed within a shot at the turn, carding four birdies on her first nine holes. Ko began with birdies at the first and second holes, then stumbled with bogeys on the par-3 third and seventh holes.

    But just as her lead came under threat, she found another gear, birdying the ninth hole to regain a two-shot lead. She then pulled away with birdies at the 13th and 17th in what seemed a nerveless finish, showing the experience gained as a 10-time winner on the Korean LPGA Tour.


    Full-field scores from the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open


    She ended with a regulation par on the 18th to claim her second LPGA title after previously winning the co-sanctioned KEB-Hana Bank Championship.

    Ko said she felt ''lots'' of nerves over the final round. Asked her reaction when she holed out on 18, she said ''relief.''

    ''I thought I could do it but I felt I had to play my game and enjoy the game,'' Ko said. ''My goal this week was firstly to make the cut and second to enjoy the game.

    ''But I won this week so I don't know what that might mean. My goal is Rookie of the Year.'' Asked by a reporter whether Player of the Year was a realistic option, Ko replied: ''No, not yet.''

    Ko started the tournament ranked 20 but could be close to the top-10 by the start of the next LPGA tour stop in Thailand next weekend.

    Choi was relentless in pursuit, the only player other than Ko to beat par in all four rounds. She shot 69, 71, 70, 67 on the par-72 layout, finishing at 277, 11 under par.

    Green, in her rookie season, had rounds of 69, 74, 66, 69 to finish third at 10-under, one shot ahead of compatriot Katherine Kirk, who finished with a 7-under 65, the day's best round.

    ''I started off really well,'' Green said. ''My goal was to get into every major and I know that's quite hard being a rookie this year. So hopefully I've made enough money and keep making money to ensure I'm definitely in.''

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    G-Mac has Ryder Cup on mind with Genesis in grasp

    By Rex HoggardFebruary 18, 2018, 2:12 am

    LOS ANGELES – Graeme McDowell is four years removed from his last start in a Ryder Cup and golf is more than seven months away from this year’s matches, but then it’s never too early to start daydreaming.

    Following a third-round 70 that left him tied for third place and just two strokes off the lead at the Genesis Open, McDowell was asked if the matches are on his mind.

    “I feel like I've got a lot of things to do between now and getting on that team,” he said. “Standing here right now it's probably not a realistic goal, but if I continue to play the way I'm playing for the next few months, it may start to become a realistic goal.”


    Full-field scores from the Genesis Open

    Genesis Open: Articles, photos and videos


    McDowell began his week at Riviera Country Club fresh off four consecutive missed cuts and has drifted to 219th in the Official World Golf Ranking. But his play this week has been encouraging and the Northern Irishman has always relished the opportunity to play for Europe.

    “Deep down I know I'm good enough, but I've got to show, I've got to put some results on the board, I've got to take care of my business,” he said. “The greatest experience of my career bar none, and I would love to play another couple Ryder Cup matches before it's all said and done.”

    McDowell does have a potential advantage this year having won the French Open twice at Le Golf National, site of this year’s matches.