Golf Gives Relief at LPGA Major

By Brian HewittJune 7, 2007, 4:00 pm
Meanwhile back at the golf
 
The first round of the second womens major of the year has set the table for the rest of the McDonalds LPGA quite nicely, thank you very much.
 
Three players - Kim Saiki-Maloney, Angela Park and former U.S. Womens Open champion Birdie Kim - share the lead at 5 under par. Lurking at 4 under, 3 under and 2 under respectively are Morgan Pressel, Brittany Lincicome and Annika Sorenstam.
 
Meanwhile there was more new subtext prior to the beginning of Thursdays first round. And, heres a surprise: It had to do with the ongoing Michelle Wie soap opera.
 
Following a Wednesday report on GOLF CHANNEL in which two industry experts agreed that Wies marketability in the immediate future had been damaged by events of recent days, Nike responded in Wies defense.
 
Nike pays Wie a lot of money to play good golf and represent the company in good fashion. And it wasnt about to let her critics take free shots at her on the subject of marketing which is close to Nikes corporate heart.
 
Michelle Wie is a remarkable 17-year-old athlete who, as a result, garners extraordinary attention, said Nike exec Cindy Davis in a statement e-mailed to GOLF CHANNEL. Its not unusual that a young person of her age and talent will encounter challenges as she grows and matures in the game. We at Nike golf certainly understand that.
 
The Wie camp was also contacted by GOLF CHANNEL and asked to respond to the Wednesday report. But Wies New York-based publicist, Jesse Derris, said, Were not going to comment.
 
The Wednesday segment on Golf Central quoted industry marketing analyst Bob Williams as saying, no advertiser would want to create a deal with her now that these questions are surrounding her.
 
The questions in question centered mainly around Wies decision to withdraw from last weeks Ginn Tribute hosted by Annika when she was 14 over par after 16 holes. An 88 or worse, because of an LPGA rule, would have kept from LPGA events for the rest of the year. Wie said she withdrew because of a sore wrist. Her critics, including a few other women players, said Wie stopped playing to avoid the 88.
 
Wie then went to Bulle Rock and began practicing for this weeks event. Thats when Sorenstam criticized her for starting to grind so soon after an injury. Wie responded to Sorenstam by refusing to apologize. Meanwhile reports surfaced that Wies father had gotten into a shouting match with LPGA commissioner Carolyn Bivens.
 
Then the GOLF CHANNEL was told by a source close to the Wie camp that part of the reason Michelle wasnt forthcoming with too many details regarding her wrist problems was because she had received conflicting advice from her doctors. Needless to say, this was a story with a lot of moving parts.
 
This is probably going to be the ultimate cautionary tale of how not to handle a child prodigy, said agent Rocky Hambric, who represents a stable of players on the PGA TOUR. Its a shame.
 
Williams, the president of Burns Sports & Celebrities, said the best way for the Wie camp to get the train back on the tracks would be for Michelle to apologize for withdrawing and coming back too soon.
 
Asked the same question, Hambric said Wie needs to make drastic changes. Specifically, he said, she needs to get her family out of the way and turn her career over to the professionals.
 
Anyway, Wie, clearly not completely healed, struggled much of her afternoon round off the tee. Her score of 73 left her six back of the leaders.
 
So maybe everybody can get back to the fresh story lines shaping up here. How about the Pressel Slam? How about Annikas Comeback? Where did you go Birdie Kim?
 
..Meanwhile, back at the golf.
 

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    What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

    Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

    Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

    Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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    Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

    By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

    Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

    While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

    The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

    So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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    Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

    By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

    The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

    As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

    Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

    And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

    And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

    McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

    The Ryder Cup topped his list.

    Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

    When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

    “Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”



    McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

    Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

    “The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

    European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

    And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

    The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

    Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

    And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

    Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

    The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

    The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

    More bulletin board material, too.

    Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

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    Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

    Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

    The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

    It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

    The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

    “I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

    Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.