Torrey Pines Paging Dr Wie

By Brian HewittJanuary 23, 2008, 5:00 pm
The USGA, which already has said the first cut of rough will probably be less penal at its Torrey Pines South U.S. Open this June than it was at its Oakmont U.S. Open last June, has more good news for the players.
 
And before you get the idea that the USGA has gone all soft on us, heres a reminder from course set-up guy Mike Davis: This years U.S. Open will be able to play close to 400 yards longer (7,600 plus) than any previous U.S. Open. And we think, Davis said, that weather conditions will allow us to dial in the firmness pretty close to the way we want.
 
Its just that Davis still remembers the 1998 U.S. Senior Open staged at Riviera Country Club near Los Angeles In July. At that championship the kikuyu grass greenside roughs were allowed to grow virtually unchecked. Hale Irwins winning score of 285 was the only over par winning score in the Senior Open in the last 16 years.
 
Kikuyu grass is very grabby. And as a result, said Davis who was at Riviera in 1998, it made the players, at times, look almost stupid around the greens. That blade of grass at that time of year is just too strong.
 
The greenside roughs at Torrey Pines are also primarily kikuyu. But Davis says the plan is to overseed and create a friendlier blend of ryegrass and kikuyu to give the players a fighting chance around the greens.
 
Greenside kikuyu at the Buick Invitational, played at Torrey Pines this week and at the Northern Trust Open, played at Riviera next month, isnt healthy enough in winter to present the kinds of problems it does later in the year.
 
ROLE REVERSAL:
The LPGA season begins Feb. 14-16 with the SBS Open followed by the Fields Open, both of which will be played in Hawaii.
 
Heres the twist:
 
Former World No. 1 Annika Sorenstam will probably play in both events, for the first time in her career. Current World No. 1 Lorena Ochoa will play in neither, for the first time in her career.
 
Sources say Ochoa wants to pay more attention to gearing her schedule around the four womens majors in 2008. Her first event of 2008 will be the HSBC Womens Championship in Singapore Feb. 28-Mar. 2.
 
The first LPGA major is the Kraft Nabisco Championship April 3-6.
 
Sorenstam is engaged to be married to Mike McGee. The wedding date is scheduled for some time in 2009. Word out of her camp is that she is healthy again and champing at the bit for the 2008 LPGA season to begin.
 
BACK TO SCHOOL:
The latest domino to fall in the scheduling game that faces the Wie family has to do with Michelles father, B.J. Wie.
 
Thats Dr. Wie to you.
 
It is not widely known that B.J. Wie holds a PhD and is a faculty member of the University of Hawaiis School of Travel Industry Management. It is even less widely known that B.J. Wie is currently on what a school official recently termed unpaid personal leave.
 
The elder Wie, reported the school official, is expected to return to his teaching assignments by the beginning of fall semester, 2008.
 
That means, among other things, if Michelle returns to Stanford for the fall quarter later this year, she will be free from the watchful eye of both parents. Michelle Wies parents drew criticism from at least one Stanford official late last year when it was learned that her parents were living in off-campus quarters during the first term of her freshman year. One school employee referred to B.J. and Bo (Michelles mother) as helicopter parents because they were perceived to be hovering over their daughter.
 
Meanwhile, officials of the SBS Open are expected to announce, within days, what players will get sponsors exemptions to that tournament. A Wie representative did not immediately respond to a request on whether Michelle had applied for one of those exemptions.
 
BUBBLE BATTLE:
Its not too early to start examining the years first bubble. The WGC-Accenture Match Play is just a month away and the scramble for invitations at the moment is a wild one.
 
The top 64 in the Official World Golf Ranking get bids. Ernie Els, currently No. 5, already has said he will skip the event. So, barring other dropouts, that leaves anybody near No. 65 on the list hustling for his spot.
 
At the moment Colin Montgomerie is languishing at No. 65. Jonathan Byrd, Carl Pettersson and Sean OHair'all prominent players--are Nos. 67-69, respectively. Anthony Kim ranks 64th, Camilo Villegas 63rd and Daniel Chopra, who won earlier this month at Kapalua, is No. 61.
 
Invitations become official after the release of the world rankings on Monday Feb. 11.
 
Email your thoughts to Brian Hewitt
 
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - Buick Invitational
  • Day: Woods feeling good, hitting it long

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 22, 2017, 9:33 pm

    Jason Day says Tiger Woods told him he feels better than he has in three years, which is good news for Woods a week ahead of his return to the PGA Tour at the Hero World Challenge.

    Day, a fellow Nike endorser, was asked about Woods during his news conference at the Emirates Australian Open on Wednesday. "I did talk to him," Day said, per a report in the Sydney Morning Herald,"and he did say it's the best he's ever felt in three years'" Day said.

    "He doesn't wake up with pain anymore, which is great. I said to him, 'Look, it's great to be one of the best players ever to live, but health is one thing that we all take for granted and if you can't live a happy, healthy life, then that's difficult.'"

    The Hero World Challenge will be played Nov. 30-Dec. 3 in the Bahamas and broadcast on Golf Channel and NBC.

    Day, who has had his own health issues, said he could empathize with Woods.

    "I totally understand where he's coming from, because sometimes I wake up in the morning and it takes me 10 minutes to get out of bed, and for him to be in pain for three years is very frustrating."

    Woods has not played since February after undergoing surgery following a recurrence of back problems.

    "From what I see on Instagram and what he's been telling me, he says he's ready and I'm hoping that he is, because from what I hear, he's hitting it very long," Day said.

    "And if he's hitting it long and straight, then that's going to be tough for us because it is Tiger Woods. He's always been a clutch putter and in amongst the best and it will be interesting to see.

    "There's no pressure. I think it's a 17- or 18-man field, there's no cut, he's playing at a tournament where last year I think he had the most birdies at."

    Move over Lydia, a new Ko is coming to LPGA

    By Randall MellNovember 22, 2017, 5:11 pm

    Another gifted young South Korean will be joining the LPGA ranks next year.

    Jin Young Ko, the Korean LPGA Tour star, informed the American-based LPGA on Sunday night that she will be taking up membership next year. Ko earned the right by winning the LPGA’s KEB Hana Bank Championship as a nonmember in South Korea in October.

    Ko, 22, no relation to Lydia Ko, first burst on to the international spotlight with her run into contention at the Ricoh Women’s British Open at Turnberry two years ago. She led there through 54 holes, with Inbee Park overtaking her in the final round to win.

    With 10 KLPGA Tour titles, three in each of the last two seasons, Ko has risen to No. 19 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings.

    Ko told GolfChannel.com Sunday afternoon that she was struggling over the decision, with a Monday deadline looming.

    “It’s a difficult decision to leave home,” Ko said after the final round of the CME Group Tour Championship in Naples, when she was still undecided. “The travelling far away, on my own, the loneliness, that’s what is difficult.”

    Ko will be the favorite to win the LPGA’s Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year Award next year. South Koreans have won that award the last three years. Sung Hyun Park won it this year, In Gee Chun last year and Sei Young Kim in 2015. South Korean-born players have won the last four, with New Zealand’s Lydia Ko winning it in 2014. Ko was born in South Korea and moved to New Zealand when she was 6.

    Ko released this statement through the LPGA on Wednesday: 

    "It has been my dream since I was young to play on the LPGA Tour and I look forward to testing myself against the best players on a worldwide stage. I know it is going to be tough but making a first win as an LPGA member and winning the Rolex Rookie of the Year award would be two of the biggest goals I would like to achieve next year."

    Piller pregnant, no timetable for LPGA return

    By Randall MellNovember 22, 2017, 4:22 pm

    Gerina Piller, the American Olympian golfer and three-time Solheim Cup veteran, is pregnant and will not be rejoining the LPGA when the 2018 season opens, the New York Times reported following the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship.

    Piller, 32, who is married to PGA Tour pro Martin Piller, is due with the couple’s first child in May, Golf Channel’s Jerry Foltz reported.

    Piller declined an interview request when GolfChannel.com sought comment going into the CME Group Tour Championship.

    Piller told the New York Times she has no timetable for her return but that she isn’t done with competitive golf.

    “I’m not just giving everything up,” Piller said.

    As parity reigns, LPGA searching for a superstar

    By Randall MellNovember 22, 2017, 4:00 pm

    Apologies to the LPGA’s golden eras, but women’s golf has never been deeper.

    With the game going global, with the unrelenting wave of Asian talent continuing to slam the tour’s shores, with Thailand and China promising to add to what South Korea is delivering, it’s more difficult than ever to win.

    That’s a beautiful and perplexing thing for the women’s game.

    That’s because it is more difficult than ever to dominate.

    And that’s a magic word in golf.

    There is no more powerful elixir in the sport.

    Domination gets you on the cover of Sports Illustrated, on ESPN SportsCenter, maybe even on NBC Nightly News if the “D” in domination is dynamic enough.

    The women’s best chance of moving their sport to another stratosphere is riding the back of a superstar.

    Or maybe a pair of superstar rivals.


    Photos: 2017 LPGA winners gallery


    A constellation of stars may be great for the devoted regular supporters of the women’s game, but it will take a charismatic superstar to make casual fans care.

    The LPGA needs a Serena Williams.

    Or the reincarnation of Babe Zaharias.

    For those of us who regularly follow the LPGA, this constellation of stars makes for compelling stories, a variety of scripting to feature.

    The reality, however, is that it takes one colossal story told over and over again to burst out of a sports niche.

    The late, great CBS sports director Frank Chirkinian knew what he had sitting in a TV production truck the first time he saw one of his cameras bring a certain young star into focus at the Masters.

    It’s this player coming up over the brow of the hill at the 15th hole to play his second shot,” Chirkinian once told me over lunch at a golf course he owned in South Florida.  “He studies his shot, then flips his cigarette, hitches up his trousers and takes this mighty swipe and knocks the shot on the green. It was my first experience with Arnold Palmer, and I remember thinking, ‘Wow, who is this guy?’

    “The thing about golf, more than any other sport, it’s always looking for a star. It’s the only sport where people will root against the underdog. They don’t want the stars to lose. They’re OK with some unknown rising up to be the story on Thursday or Friday, but they always want to see the stars win.”

    And they go gaga when it’s one star so radiant that he or she dominates attention.

    “It didn’t matter if Arnold was leading, or where he was, you had to show him,” Chirkinian said. “You never knew when he might do something spectacular.”

    The LPGA is in a healthy place again, with a big upside globally, with so much emerging talent sharing the spotlight.

    Take Sunday at the CME Group Tour Championship.

    The back nine started with Lexi Thompson and Michelle Wie making the turn tied for the lead. There is no more powerful pairing to sell in the women’s game today, but there would be no duel. It would have been too far off script as the final chapter to this season.

    Parity was the story this year.

    Sunday in Naples started with 18 players within two shots of the lead.

    Entering that back nine, almost a dozen players were in the mix, including Ariya Jutanugarn.

    The day ended with Jutanugarn beating Thompson with a dramatic birdie-birdie finish after Thompson stunned viewers missing a 2-foot putt for par at the last.

    The day encapsulated the expanding LPGA universe.

    “I’ve never seen such crazy, brilliant golf from these ladies,” said Gary Gilchrist, who coaches Jutanugarn, Lydia Ko and Rolex world No. 1 Shanshan Feng. “It was unbelievable out there. It was just like birdie after birdie after birdie, and the scoreboard went up and down. And that’s why it’s so hard to be No. 1 on this tour. There’s not one person who can peak. It’s all of them at a phenomenal level of golf.”

    If Thompson had made that last 2-footer and gone on to win the CME, she would have become the sixth different world No. 1 this year. Before this year, there had never been more than three different No. 1s in a single LPGA season.

    Parity was the theme from the year’s start.

    There were 15 different winners to open the season, something that hadn’t happened in 26 years. There were five different major championship winners.

    This year’s Rolex Player of the Year Award was presented Sunday to So Yeon Ryu and Sung Hyun Park. It’s the first time the award has been shared since its inception in 1966.

    Thompson won twice this year, with six second-place finishes, with three of those playoff losses, one of them in a major championship. She was close to putting together a spectacular year. She was close to dominating and maybe becoming the tour’s one true rock star.

    Ultimately, Thompson showed us how hard that is to do now.

    She’s in a constellation we’re all watching, to see if maybe one star breaks out, somebody able to take the game into living rooms it has never been, to a level of popularity it’s never been.

    The game won’t get there with another golden era. It will get there with a golden player.