Wie Wearing Out Welcome Mat
That's not likely to happen to Michelle Wie, a 14-year-old already blessed with poise, a 100-watt smile and a picture-perfect golf swing. Then again, the last thing a young girl with designs on playing the men's tour one day and already burdened by comparisons to Tiger Woods needs is a sense of entitlement.
Wie went through more sponsors exemptions in the past year - a handful on the LPGA Tour, two more on men's minor league tours - than Woods did during his entire amateur career. And if her plans for early next year are any indication, she and her handlers aren't worried about having the welcome mat pulled out from under her anytime soon.
Last week, in a scene that was more pomp than circumstance, Wie showed up in Hawaii Gov. Linda Lingle's office to accept another free invitation, this time to play in the Sony Open. The first full-field event of the PGA Tour is being staged near the teenager's home in Honolulu, and motivated as much by economic development as player development, the governor even boasted about lobbying the title sponsor for the free pass.
'I believe this will bring added exposure to the tournament and to the state. Michelle brings a lot of pride to our people. Everybody knows I'm not a golfer,' Lingle said, 'but nobody is prouder than I am of Michelle.'
The governor then proved she wasn't a golfer by praising Wie for showing 'that she has the maturity and ability to hold her own' - which is only true up to a point.
Wie had what is best described as an eventful season. She became the youngest player to win a USGA title for adults in the U.S. Women's Amateur Public Links and made the cut in six of the seven LPGA tournaments in which she competed. It was highlighted by a tie for the ninth in the season's first major, but marred by a run-in she and her father, B.J. Wie, had with veteran pro Danielle Ammaccapane over several breaches of etiquette at the U.S. Open.
Her outings with the men, however, weren't as memorable. Playing on sponsors' exemptions and from the same tees, Wie missed the cut on the Nationwide Tour's Boise Open and the Canadian Tour's Bay Mills Open Players Championship.
Wie had tried earning a spot in the Sony twice before in a one-day qualifying event and failed. Maybe that's why she didn't seem the least bit fazed by how it came about this time.
'I like the easy route,' she said. 'I know how hard it can be. It's a one-day deal, and anything can happen. I like this way better.'
By the end of this year, at least a half-dozen women will have played against the men on tours around the world. It began with Annika Sorenstam, who was looking for a personal challenge at the Colonial after wearing out the competition on her own tour, and the novelty has been wearing off steadily since. The only woman to actually earn her spot, teaching pro Suzy Whaley, did it by winning a PGA club pro sectional from a shorter set of tees and then, like Sorenstam, missed the cut at the Greater Hartford Open.
Not long ago, PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem was asked whether he expected the gender-blending to continue.
'I don't see a trend involved here where a lot of tournaments are going to want women golfers to play,' he replied. 'I frankly don't think there are many that add much to a tournament at this point in time.'
Sponsors can invite anyone they want, of course, and as Sorenstam proved over the objections of Vijay Singh, the exemption couldn't have been put to better use. Likewise, Wie's appearance at the Sony will help sell tickets and juice the TV ratings. Whether she will benefit nearly as much is a trickier question.
Even while doubting that women playing on his tour would catch on, Finchem allowed that Wie might be a special case. She already drives the ball as far as many PGA regulars. 'The question on everyone's mind,' the commissioner said, 'is how far can this young gal go?'
But if Wie's ultimate destination really is the PGA Tour, her education will be better served by making her earn a place instead of having a governor shill for it. Riding the wave of celebrity has its moments, but it won't teach her anything about her golf game.
Earl Woods chose his son's spots with great care for that reason. He believed the most important thing was learning how to win. Tiger accepted a few exemptions into pro events while still a teenager, but he won three U.S. Juniors and the same number of U.S. Amateurs before he was unleashed on the PGA Tour.
'I wasn't going to send Tiger out there until I knew he could beat those guys, and I wouldn't send him out there,' Earl said, 'until he knew he could beat those guys, too.'
Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Angela hits Sergio in stride on field at Superdome
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 ...
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
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.
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
Win Nos. 2 and 3: The Hawaiian double
Record Round No. 1: 59 at the Sony Open
Record Round No. 2: 63 at the U.S. Open
Temporary Slide: Open MC makes it three in a row
Mr. Major (and win No. 4): PGA champ at Quail Hollow
Win No. 5: Dell Technologies Championship
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
Photo Galleries: Best of ...
Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017
GolfChannel.com counted down the top 10 Newsmakers of the Year as voted on by Golf Channel’s writers, editors, reporters and producers. Check out the list below. And click here for the full collection of articles.
Cabreras win PNC Father/Son Challenge
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.