Wie Slated for Big Announcement Wednesday

By Associated PressOctober 1, 2005, 4:00 pm
Michelle Wie will stick to her routine by going to school Wednesday, with one notable exception.
 
She will be the only junior at Punahou School who already is a millionaire.
 
Six days before she turns 16, still not old enough to drive car by herself, the 6-foot prodigy will turn professional with two endorsement deals that will make her the richest female golfer.
 
Two sources involved with her decision, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Wie will make the announcement Wednesday in Honolulu (Watch it Live on TGC at 2PM/ET) at the Kahala Mandarin Hotel near Waialae Country Club, where she twice played in the Sony Open and shot 68 as a 14-year-old.
 
The time was set early so she could still go to school. That weekend, she will fly to the California desert and make her professional debut in the Samsung World Championship at Bighorn.
 
But the money will start pouring in no matter how she fares in the 18-player field.
 
Michelle Wie
Michelle Wie is expected to become the richest female player ever.
The sources said Wie will sign two major endorsements, with Nike and Sony.
 
One source said the Nike contract would pay her about $4 million to $5 million a year. Nike prefers its athletes to have a clean look with no other logos, meaning Wie would have the swoosh on her cap and clothing. Tiger Woods has a dozen sponsors, but only the Nike logo is displayed on his clothing.
 
Wie has been using Nike equipment the last few years, and wearing its apparel.
 
The other major endorsement is with Sony, which is believed to be worth close to the Nike deal.
 
Sony officials got to know Wie during her two appearances at the Sony Open. She shot 68 in the second round last year -- the lowest score ever by a female competing on a men's tour -- and missed the cut by one shot. She returned this year and shot 75-74 in blustery conditions to miss the cut by seven shots.
 
One executive from Sony walked all 18 holes of her second round in 2004.
 
Along with appearance money to play overseas, Wie could bring in about $10 million a year beyond whatever she makes on the golf course. Annika Sorenstam, whose 66 victories on the LPGA Tour include nine majors and the career Grand Slam, earns about $6 million a year in endorsements.
 
Along with playing in the Samsung World Championship on Oct. 13 -- two days after she turns 16 -- Wie will play the Casio World Open in Japan the week of Thanksgiving, her first tournament overseas against the men.
 
``The courses in Japan are not as tough as here, they're not as long as they are in the United States,'' Shigeki Maruyama said Friday from the Chrysler Classic of Greensboro. ``She should have a very good chance of making the cut over there.''
 
Wie figures to have even greater recognition overseas, especially in Asia, than in the United States. She was born in Honolulu and has a Korean heritage, and speaks to her parents primarily in Korean.
 
``The LPGA is very popular in Japan,'' Maruyama said. ``She will be a big star.''
 
Wie is unlikely to play any other tournaments this year.
 
Nike most likely will build an ad campaign around her decision to turn pro, although not to the extent of its ``Hello, World'' ad when Tiger Woods turned pro in 1996 at age 20 after winning six straight USGA titles.
 
Wie is more about potential, a prodigy who already was hitting the ball like a PGA Tour player when she was still wearing a retainer. She first caught players' attention while playing in a junior pro-am at the Sony Open when she was 12. Tom Lehman thought her swing was so fluid he called her the ``Big Wiesy,'' because she reminded him of Ernie Els.
 
Wednesday's announcement will end an amateur chapter in her career in which she spent more time playing against the pros. Wie already has played 24 times on the LPGA Tour, and has not missed a cut in the last two years.
 
She was runner-up at the LPGA Championship to Annika Sorenstam in June, and tied for third at the Women's British Open in July. Both are majors on the LPGA Tour.
 
Wie also has competed five times against the men, without making a cut -- three on the PGA Tour, once on the Nationwide Tour and once on the Canadian Tour.
 
Her father said his daughter's routine would not change despite her status as a professional and the amount of money she will earn. B.J. Wie said he would stay at the University of Hawaii, where he is a professor, and Michelle would spend her final two years at Punahou School before going to college.
 
Wie will not challenge the LPGA Tour's policy that members be 18 years old. Instead, she will take sponsor's exemptions -- a maximum of six on the LPGA Tour, excluding the U.S. Women's Open or the Women's British Open. She can take up to seven on the PGA Tour, although it is not likely she will accept that many.
 
The announcement comes a week before her final LPGA Tour start to deflect some of the media attention. Some have scrutinized Wie the last two years for not playing more against girls her own age to pile up trophies.
 
Her most noteworthy victory was the 2003 U.S. Woman's Amateur Public Links, which she captured at age 13 to become the youngest champion of a USGA championship for adults. She lost in the finals of the WAPL a year later, but never reached the finals of the U.S. Junior Girls or U.S. Women's Amateur.
 
Her path has been different from the start.
 
She was winning state amateur events before she got out of elementary school, and qualified for her first LPGA Tour event -- the Takefugi Classic in 2002 -- before she was eligible for some junior tours like the American Junior Golf Association.
 
Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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Kelly, Sauers co-lead in Hawaii; Monty, Couples in mix

By Associated PressJanuary 19, 2018, 3:52 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii - Fresh off a solid performance on Oahu, Jerry Kelly shot an 8-under 64 on the Big Island on Thursday to share the first-round lead at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

The 51-year-old Kelly, who tied for 14th at the PGA Tour's Sony Open last week in Honolulu, birdied five of his final seven holes to shoot 30 on the back nine at Hualalai. He won twice last season, his first on the over-50 tour.

Gene Sauers also shot 64, going bogey-free amid calm conditions. Thirty-two of the 44 players broke par in the limited-field event, which includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

Rocco Mediate and Colin Montgomerie were one shot back, and Fred Couples, Kevin Sutherland and Kirk Triplett were another shot behind.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was in the middle of the pack after a 69.

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Rahm (62) fires career low round

By Will GrayJanuary 19, 2018, 12:03 am

The scores were predictably low during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge, where the top-ranked player in the field currently sits atop the standings. Here's how things look after the first day in Palm Springs as Jon Rahm is out to an early advantage:

Leaderboard: Jon Rahm (-10), Austin Cook (-9), Andrew Landry (-9), Jason Kokrak (-9), Brandon Harkins (-8), Martin Piller (-8), Aaron Wise (-8), Beau Hossler (-8)

What it means: Rahm is coming off a runner-up finish two weeks ago at Kapalua, and he picked up right where he left off with a 10-under 62 at La Quinta Country Club. It marked his lowest career round on the PGA Tour, and it gave him a one-shot lead heading to the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Cook is the only player within two shots of Rahm who has won already on Tour.

Round of the day: Rahm got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under, and he made it around La Quinta without dropping a shot. The 62 bettered his previous career low on Tour by two shots and it included an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole to go along with eight birdies.

Best of the rest: Cook was a winner earlier this season at the RSM Classic, and he's now in the mix for trophy No. 2 following a 9-under 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Like Rahm, he opened with a seven-hole stretch at 6 under and turned in a scorecard without a bogey. He'll now head to the more difficult Stadium Course for his second round.

Biggest disappointment: Patrick Reed blitzed the three-course rotation in Palm Springs en route to his first career Tour title back in 2014, but he's unlikely to repeat that feat after opening with a 2-over 74 on the Nicklaus Tournament course. Reed made only one birdie against three bogeys and was one of only 32 players in the 156-man field who failed to break par in the opening round.

Main storyline heading into Friday: Rahm deserves the spotlight, as he entered the week as one of the event's headliners and did nothing to lose that billing in the opening round. But the pack of contenders is sure to keep pace, while players like Phil Mickelson (-2) will look to put up a low score in order to build some momentum heading into the weekend.

Shot of the day: Wesley Bryan's 7-under 65 on the Nicklaus Tournament course was helped in large part by an eagle on the par-4 10th, where he holed a 54-degree wedge from 112 yards away. Bryan went on to birdie the next hole amid a five-hole stretch of 5 under play.

Quote of the day: "Shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for." - Rahm

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Recent winner Cook contending at CareerBuilder

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:45 pm

Patton Kizzire is currently the only two-time PGA Tour winner this season, but Austin Cook hopes to join him this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

Cook won for the first time in November at the RSM Classic, a victory that catapaulted him from the Web.com Tour graduate category into an entirely new echelon. Cook notched a pair of top-25 finishes over the last two weeks in Hawaii, and he's again in the mix after an opening 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course left him one shot behind Jon Rahm.

"Today was great," Cook told reporters. "The conditions were perfect, but I always loved desert golf and I was just hitting the ball well and seeing good lines on the greens and hitting good putts."

Cook got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under highlighted by an eagle on the par-5 fourth hole. He briefly entertained the notion of a sub-60 round after birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 before closing with six pars and a birdie.


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Cook was a relative unknown before his victory at Sea Island earlier this season, but now with the flexibility and confidence afforded by a win he hopes to build on his burgeoning momentum this week in California.

"That was a big, proud moment for myself, knowing that I can finish a tournament," Cook said. "I think it was one of those things that I've proven to myself that now I can do it, and it just meant the world to me."

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Photo: Fleetwood's phone cover is picture of Bjorn

By Jason CrookJanuary 18, 2018, 11:40 pm

There's phone covers and then there are Phone Covers.

Paul Casey has himself a Phone Cover, showing off the protective case that features a picture of his wife at last year's U.S. Open.

Now, it appears, Tommy Fleetwood has joined the movement.

Fleetwood, last year's season-long Race to Dubai winner, has a phone cover with a picture of Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn on it. And not even a current Thomas Bjorn. This is a young Bjorn. A hair-having Bjorn.

@tommyfleetwood_1

A post shared by Alex Noren (@alexnoren1) on

The 26-year-old is a virtual lock for this year's European Ryder Cup team, but just in case, he's carrying around a phone with a picture of the team captain attached to the back of it.

It's a bold strategy, Cotton. Let's see if it pays off for him.