Wie Struggles Donald Leads at Sony

By Associated PressJanuary 11, 2007, 5:00 pm
2006 Sony OpenHONOLULU -- Luke Donald didn't have much of a following Thursday, so he barely heard any applause even as he made birdies on half his holes for a 7-under 63 and a one-shot lead in the Sony Open.

The crowds were with Michelle Wie. And there wasn't much cheering there, either.

'I heard no noise, really,' Donald said. 'I got one score update -- I wasn't sure if it was true -- 8 over after eight.'

Luke Donald
Luke Donald fired a opening-round 7-under 63 on Oahu.
No, that wasn't true. She was 8 over after nine holes.

Playing the Sony Open for the fourth straight year, Wie hit into the water twice, the bunker twice, clipped two palm trees and didn't hit a fairway until the 15th hole. Headed for her worst score ever, the 17-year-old kept battling and played the back nine in even par for a 78.

That's one stroke better than her opening round a year ago at Waialae.

But it still leaves her chances of making the cut about the same as the second round being postponed by snow.

'Even though I was playing bad, I knew I could always come back if I get the ball in the fairway,' said Wie, who managed that just one time on a breezy day along the shores of Oahu. 'At the end, I actually felt like I was playing golf.'

She was in next-to-last place, five shots clear of Hawaii club pro Abe Mariano (83).

The best score by a Hawaii teen belonged to 16-year-old Tadd Fujikawa, one year younger and a foot shorter than Wie. Fujikawa, who qualified for the U.S. Open last year, opened with a 1-over 71 at Waialae, the same as Kapalua winner Vijay Singh.

K.J. Choi played in stiffer wind in the afternoon, made the turn in 30 and settled for a 64. Will MacKenzie continued riding his wave and, despite being bummed about a three-putt par on the 18th, shot a 65 and was tied for third with Jim Furyk.

Donald is at No. 10 in the world ranking, and his game has looked as though he belongs there. He only has two PGA Tour victories, including the Honda Classic last year, but his confidence is building and his game is tidier than ever.

'I'm getting better every year,' Donald said. 'It has not quite yet resulted in lots of wins, winning majors, that kind of stuff, but I feel like I'm getting a lot closer than I was a year or two ago. I've gotten to the stage where I'm expecting to be up there and contending, and winning each week I play.'

For Wie, expectations are headed the other direction.

Her swing no longer is long and fluid, rather mechanical than when she first played the Sony Open at age 14 and shot 68 in the second round to miss the cut by one shot. Her weakness then was her short game, which is now her strength.

It kept a bad round from being embarrassing on Thursday.

A sign in someone's backyard down the right side of the first hole said, 'Wie??? Why!!!' She never saw it because she duck-hooked her tee shot, fortunate it didn't go onto the practice range. She saved par with a 10-foot putt.

More fortune was on her side at No. 2, when another drive tugged to the left hopped along the rocks framing the lake, then took one last bounce into the rough. That didn't help, though, because the next shot looked like a sharp grounder to second base.

And on the next hole, she pulled another shot into the water and made an 8-foot putt to escape with bogey.

The worst tee shot came at No. 5, yanked some 40 yards left of the fairway into a creek next to the seventh green. That led to double bogey, and she picked up another double bogey on the sixth by twice clipping the palm trees.

And on the par-5 ninth, she sliced it so badly it went off the property and into a canal.

Q-school grad Stephen Marino (68) and Gavin Coles of Australia (71) both suggested that her right wrist might have been hurting Wie more than she let one. Wie has had it wrapped tightly each day, and said she has been going through acupuncture.

'I don't know that her wrist was doing her any good,' Coles said. 'I think she's not letting people know that it's hurting. But she's got a nice short game. She managed very, very well. She has a nice head on her shoulders.'

Wie said she hurt the wrist while hitting off a cart path at the Samsung World Championship in October, and it hasn't healed. She does not know if it's tendons or ligaments causing the pain, but she did not dwell on it.

'Every kind of injury hurts a little bit. It's always in the back of your mind,' Wie said. 'But it is what it is, and I'm not going to make any excuses.'

She didn't make a birdie until a 6-iron through out of the rough and through a gap in the palm trees to 15 feet on No. 12. Her other birdie came on the par-3 17th, where she hit 5-iron into 18 feet.

Playing the back in even par allowed Wie to end a dubious streak of three straight rounds in the 80s competing against the men. She opened with a 79 last year, then followed with a 68 to match her record as the lowest score by a woman on the PGA Tour.

And she still believes that's possible.

She attributed her poor driving to a careless mistake in her setup, which she did not want to describe.

'If I just get everything right, get the ball in the fairway -- get the ball anywhere in play, actually -- I think I can definitely tear this golf course up,' she said.

Divots
Arron Oberholser withdrew for the second straight week with a back injury and was replaced by Brendon DeJonge of South Africa, who made his PGA Tour debut in tough circumstances. He was in Charlotte, N.C., at 2 p.m. Wednesday when told he was in the field, arrived in Honolulu at 3:45 a.m. and stayed up a few hours before teeing off. He opened with a 69. ... Wie didn't have the best turnaround. J.B. Holmes went 40-30 to finish at even par.

Related Links:
  • Leaderboard
  • Full Coverage - Sony Open in Hawaii
  • Golf Channel Airtimes
  • Getty Images

    After Further Review: Tiger's return comes at perfect time

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 2:19 am

    Each week, GolfChannel.com takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

    On the current state of golf as Tiger Woods returns to competition ...

    Less than four days before Tiger Woods returns to official competitive golf for the first time in a year, Jon Rahm, the new second-ranked player in the world, won on the PGA Tour and Rory McIlroy made an impressive 2018 debut on the European Tour (T-3).

    Not since Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus crossed paths at the 1960 U.S. Open has there been so many superstars all poised for big seasons, with world No. 1 Dustin Johnson having already won this year and Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas both coming off stellar seasons.

    It’s a good time for golf. - Rex Hoggard


    On Tommy Fleetwood's continued success ...

    There have been scores of talented European players whose skills didn’t translate to the PGA Tour … and maybe, in a few years, Tommy Fleetwood will prove to be no different.

    He sure looks like the real deal, though.  

    His title defense in Abu Dhabi – on the strength of a back-nine 30 in windy conditions – was his third title in the past 12 months and 11th top-10 overall. A few of those have come in majors and World Golf Championship events, too, which led the reigning Race to Dubai champion to accept PGA Tour membership for this season.

    Beginning at Riviera, he plans to play exclusively in the States through May, then reassess for the rest of the year. Hope he sticks, because he’s a fun personality with tons of game. - Ryan Lavner

    Getty Images

    Rahm passes Spieth to become world No. 2

    By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:25 am

    With his win Sunday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, Jon Rahm picked up his second PGA Tour victory and moved to No. 2 in the FedExCup points standings.

    He picked up one more No. 2, too.

    The 23-year-old Spaniard passed Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, behind only Dustin Johnson.

    In 19 months, since June 2016, Rahm has rocketed from No. 776 in the world to No. 2, thanks in part to his low divisor, his number of events played.

    Asked after his playoff victory over Andrew Landry to discuss his rapid ascent up the world rankings, Rahm was almost at a loss.

    “It's hard to believe to be honest, passing Jordan Spieth,” he said. “That's a three-time major champion. I only have two wins. He's got 10-plus, right? It's again – I've said it many times – I never thought I was going to be at this point in my life right now.”

    Rahm may only have two PGA Tour titles, but this is his fourth worldwide win in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. He also took the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open and the DP World Tour Championship on his way to claiming the European Tour’s 2017 Rookie of the Year Award.

    Dating back to the start of last season on the PGA Tour, Rahm has racked up 12 top-10s, three runner-ups, and two wins.

    He will head to Torrey Pines next week ready to defend for the first time.

    Getty Images

    Brady compares self to Woods after winning AFC title

    By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 1:05 am

    Tom Brady and Tiger Woods are two of the all-time greats in their respective sports ... a fact that is not lost on the five-time Super Bowl winning quarterback.

    Fresh off leading the New England Patriots to a AFC Championship victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Brady was asked about winning the game despite a cut on his throwing hand - which made national news heading into the matchup.

    His response invoked the name of a certain 14-time major winner, something that would be tough to pull off, if not for the fact that he is, you know, Tom Brady.

    “I think it's kind of arrogant to say it bothered me when we had a pretty good game, so I wouldn't say that," the 40-year-old told reporters after the game. "It's like when Tiger Woods said, ‘That was my C game’ and he won the tournament."

    Tiger Woods winning with his "C game" may be a distant memory for golf fans, but no matter what game he brings, his next chance to win comes next week at Torrey Pines during his official comeback to the PGA Tour.

    Brady has a shot at his sixth Super Bowl title in two weeks. The Patriots would probably benefit from him bringing a little better than his "C game" as well.

    Getty Images

    Rahm beats Landry in playoff to win CareerBuilder

    By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:00 am

    Jon Rahm birdied the fourth extra hole Sunday to defeat Andrew Landry in a playoff, win the CareerBuilder Challenge and move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking. Here’s how things played out in overtime at PGA West:

    Leaderboard: Rahm (-22), Landry (-22), John Huh (-20), Adam Hadwin (-20), Martin Piller (-20), Kevin Chappell (-19), Scott Piercy (-19)

    What it means: This is Rahm’s second PGA Tour win and his fourth worldwide victory in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. Rahm took the early lead Thursday with an opening 62 and after rounds of 67-70, he started the final round two back. On Sunday, he made five birdies without dropping a single shot on the intimidating Stadium Course. In the clubhouse at 22 under, Rahm watched as Landry made birdie on 18 to force a playoff.

    Rahm missed birdie putts that would have ended the tournament on the final hole of regulation and on each playoff hole. Finally, on his fourth trip down 18 of the day, his birdie bid found the cup. With the victory, Rahm passes Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, trailing only Dustin Johnson. He enters next week at Torrey Pines looking to defend for the first time.

    Best of the rest: A two-time Web.com winner playing his second full season on the PGA Tour, Landry shot 68 Sunday, making birdie on the 72nd hole to force extras. Once Rahm finally made birdie on the fourth playoff hole, Landry's putt to extend slid by on the right edge. This is Landry's best career finish on the PGA Tour. Had he won, he would have secured full Tour status through the 2019-20 season and earned invites to the Masters, Players, and PGA Championships.

    Round of the day: Sam Saunders fired an 8-under 64 to register this best finish of the season, a tie for eighth at 18 under. The reigning Web.com Tour Championship winner was 9 under par through 12 holes before making bogey at 13 and parring his way into the clubhouse.

    Biggest disappointment: Overnight leader Austin Cook was eyeing his second win of the season but never contended. The RSM champion carded two double bogeys Sunday en route to a 3-over 75, dropping him from the 54-hole lead to a tie for 14th.

    Shot of the day: Rahm's putt to win:

    Quote of the day: "One of us had to do it and either one of us would have been a well-deserving champion." - Rahm on his playoff victory over Landry