Wie Off to Wonderful Start

By Associated PressFebruary 3, 2004, 5:00 pm
WAILEA, Hawaii -- She met Tiger Woods and played nine holes with Jack Nicklaus. In between, Michelle Wie came within one shot of making the cut on the PGA Tour.
One month into 2004, the 14-year-old from Honolulu already has had a dream year.
And she is just getting warmed up.
Wie, a ninth-grader at Punahou School, turned so many heads with her 68 at the Sony Open that her father said she has received seven more offers to play on the PGA Tour.
'Michelle's still thinking about it and what to do with it,' B.J. Wie said.
Her schedule already includes several events competing against women, and her parents promise this summer won't be as hectic as 2003.
'Last year, we made a mistake, because she played three consecutive tournaments and she got so tired,' B.J. Wie said. 'She's still young. She gets tired easily.'
This year's itinerary is more spread out.
Wie is playing this week in the Hawaii Pearl Open, one of the premier men's golf events in the state. Last year, she shot a 5-over 77 in the final round and tied for 43rd as the youngest player and only female among 192 players, half of them from Japan.
After that, Wie travels to Phoenix for the Safeway International, one of the strongest fields on the LPGA Tour, followed by the Kraft Nabisco Championship, the first LPGA major of the year.
A year ago, Wie played in the final group at the Nabisco and tied for ninth.
She also plans to play in the Michelob Ultra Open, Evian Masters in France and Wendy's Championship on the LPGA Tour. Wie's amateur schedule includes her defense of the U.S. Women's Amateur Public Links and the U.S. Women's Amateur.
'I am going to have a lot of vacation this summer, not like last year when it was continuous,' she said. 'When I go to France, I'm going to have a week in Paris.
'So it's not going to be just all golf because I don't think I'll be able to handle that.'
Wie also is hopeful of making the U.S. Curtis Cup team, and she will try to qualify for the U.S. Women's Open.
B.J. Wie said his daughter won't be able to play on her high school golf team at the private Punahou School because her LPGA schedule will force her to miss most of the high school events.
PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem does not see a problem if Wie accepts another exemption, as long as she shows she can play.
'If a tournament gives sponsor exemptions to a player or an individual who is clearly not competitive, just for publicity purposes, that's something we wouldn't care to see,' Finchem said.
'Michelle Wie played quite well and, at 14, if she continues to develop, I'm not sure you can make the case that she's not competitive when she misses the cut by a shot,' he said.
Last year, Wie played seven times on the LPGA Tour, missing the cut just once. She missed the cut on the men's Canadian and Nationwide tours, and her only victory in any event came at the Women's Public Links, where she became the youngest winner of a USGA event for adults.
This season, she said playing against the PGA Tour's best in the Sony has helped her game and raised her expectations.
'It gave me a lot of confidence that I can play with these guys,' she said. 'I think it's going to help on the LPGA because some of the (men's) par 4s are a little shorter than the (women's) par 5s.
'I just want to win one LPGA tournament and the USGA tournaments,' she said. 'I want to win more tournaments because last year my goal was to make the cut, this year I want to move ahead.'
She already has one believer in Nicklaus.
'She's terrific,' Nicklaus said of Wie, his playing partner in the pro-am for last weekend's Champions Skins competition in Maui. 'She's going to be something else.
'She doesn't swing a golf club like a woman. What I mean by that is women have a hard time with less strength and transition to put really something on it.
'She's strong and absolutely rips it. She has great control and command of the golf club and that's what it takes, plus already at 14, she has a wonderful wedge game and putts well.'
Nicklaus said he hopes Wie finishes her education and does the things she needs to do to be 'normal.'
'If she's a normal human being, then she's got the chance to be an exceptional athlete,' he said. 'If it goes the other way, then you don't know what's going to happen to her. But I think her parents have her feet on the ground, and I think she has her feet on the ground.'
Wie's classmates have realized her star power.
'They're just begging me not to change my autograph because they say when they're 45 and needing a job they're going to sell my stuff on eBay,' Wie said.
B.J. Wie tried to dispell the perception that he is an overbearing parent.
'Because she's highly visible on TV, it looks like she plays golf everyday, but it's not true,' he said 'Some people believe Michelle doesn't do anything outside golf and that's not true. She does all kinds of things.
'She makes her own decisions - where to play and what tournament she wants to go,' he said. 'I present her a list of tournaments and we schedule together.'
Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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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

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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.

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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.

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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