Lewis and Wie: Rivals, opposites, close friends

By Doug FergusonJuly 8, 2014, 11:18 pm

SOUTHPORT, England - The friendly matches in South Florida can involve as many as eight players, with teams decided by drawing names from a hat.

Michelle Wie would seem to be a great pick, except for the timing.

''We usually play in the morning and then go have lunch,'' Stacy Lewis said Tuesday. ''And she usually gets very focused on the lunch and kind of doesn't pay attention to the whole golf side of it. She'll tell you the same thing.''

Wie laughed when told the story Lewis shared. Wie loves her golf and works hard at it. She also loves her food so much that before dinner gets to the table she's already thinking about the next night's menu.

For two personalities that could not be any more different, Wie and Lewis have become close friends.

One is an artist, the other a technician.

''You go to her house, she's painted everything that's on her walls,'' Lewis said. ''I need my sister to help me decorate.''

One is tall and powerful, the other is compact and precise.

''That's what Stacy is. She's consistent,'' Wie said. ''She's deadly consistent. Annoyingly consistent.''

One thing they have in common is a college diploma, rare in women's golf these days. And even that was different. Lewis graduated from Arkansas before she turned pro. Wie graduated from Stanford more than six years after she turned pro.

They are major champions and Nos. 1-2 on the LPGA Tour money list. And more than any two players, they are leading an American revival in women's golf, which resumes this week at Royal Birkdale.

Lewis began this recent surge of American success in the majors by capturing the Ricoh Women's British Open at St. Andrews last summer. Wie won the U.S. Women's Open last month at Pinehurst No. 2, making it around the Donald Ross greens without a three-putt over 72 holes. She won by two shots over Lewis, who rushed over from the practice range to be among the first to congratulate her.

A week later, Lewis rallied to beat Wie in Arkansas and take over the No. 1 spot on the money list, raising curiosity about a budding rivalry.

It's too early for that, and there are too many other players in the mix.

''I feel very honored that people are putting me up against Stacy - No. 1 in the world, obviously,'' Wie said. ''I don't think you'll find a rivalry where we hate each other or anything. But I want her to do well. I think she wants me to do well. But I think it's fun because we definitely want to beat each other. I don't want to lose to her but at the same time, I was really happy that she won in Arkansas and I think she was really happy I won at the U.S. Open, so I think it's very cool.''

Lewis had to overcome more obstacles. Scoliosis forced her to wear a back brace for 18 hours a day from age 11 until she had surgery to insert a metal rod in her back before heading off to college. She has 11 wins, two majors and is the only American to be LPGA player of the year in the last 20 years.

Wie is the bigger star, the player who makes everyone look when she walks into a room.

''I don't know if anybody could be a female Tiger Woods, but Michelle definitely moves the needle,'' Lewis said. ''I think her playing good golf is good for everyone. It's good for the tour and it's good for the other players. I said the U.S. Open couldn't have been scripted any better. We're on our biggest stage there and our biggest star winning there - and she won't even tell you that, but she is our biggest star. Her winning was huge for us.''

Their paths first crossed at another U.S. Women's Open.

Lewis made her pro debut at Interlachen in 2008 and played in the last group before finishing third. Wie didn't break 80 in the first round and had gone two years without finishing in the top 10 on the LPGA Tour. They played together at Q-school later that year. Lewis was medalist. Wie got the headlines for earning her card.

''I knew as much about her as everybody did, just seeing her on TV and stuff like that,'' Lewis said. ''A lot of players, your perception changes once you meet them.''

They met as teammates on the Solheim Cup. They are now neighbors in Florida. They practice together. They have the same trainer and are motivated by how hard each other works. They spent Fourth of July together. It rained all day, so they hung out all day, talked and set off a few fireworks.

''I don't really know what it is, but I enjoy hanging around her,'' Lewis said. ''It's cool how I've learned a lot from her, how she handles the media and how she's handled the pressures and expectations. She doesn't read anything that anybody writes and she doesn't really care what anybody thinks about her. Wish I could be like that, too.''

Getty Images

McIlroy 'happy to be back', can 'empathize' with Tiger

By Associated PressJanuary 16, 2018, 3:50 pm

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – After a long layoff from golf, Rory McIlroy has some newfound sympathy for Tiger Woods.

The 28-year-old Northern Irishman is making a comeback at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship after ending his season early last year. He has not played a round since the final day of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship on Oct. 8.

McIlroy, a four-time major champion who has slipped to No. 11 in the world rankings, last won the Tour Championship on the PGA Tour in September 2016. He injured a rib in his first outing of 2017 – at the South African Open – and felt its after-effects throughout the year.

McIlroy, who has seven top-five finishes in his last eight starts in Abu Dhabi, said Tuesday he felt mentally low because of his physical issues.

''Honestly, I was excited to be done. I could have shut it down after the PGA Championship very easily and taken the rest of the year off, but I didn't. I played six events after that, played OK and had a chance to win one of them,'' McIlroy said. ''But I was just excited to take that time off and get myself just sort of a re-set.''

Last week, McIlroy also revealed that he has a minor, non-threatening heart condition that needs regular check-ups.

''After that 3-plus months of a re-set, I'm very happy to be back. I felt like I needed it physically and mentally. I just felt like it was a little bit of a sabbatical. I've been out here for 10 years, and I want to get ready for the next 10.''

McIlroy compared his situation to what Woods has been going through.

''I've only been through, maybe, not even 5 percent of what he's had to go through. And you can tell from where he was to where he is now mentally, because of physically where he is ... he's a totally different person,'' McIlroy said. ''Of course, I empathize with him, and I know he was in a dark place there for a while. It's just so great to see him out of that and back and excited to be playing golf again.''

The Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship will be the first of back-to-back events for McIlroy, who is also playing next week in Dubai.

''I think the next two weeks will be a big learning curve, just to see where I'm at,'' McIlroy said. ''I'm obviously coming into the events trying to play as well as I can and trying to compete and trying to win, but I think there will definitely be things I'll have to work on going into that stretch in the States.''

The tournament, which starts Thursday, has attracted some big names, including top-ranked Dustin Johnson, No. 6 Justin Rose, No. 9 Henrik Stenson, No. 14 Paul Casey and No. 15 Matt Kuchar. No. 18 Tommy Fleetwood is the defending champion.

Getty Images

Pre-tourney caution be damned: Stenson rides camel

By Grill Room TeamJanuary 16, 2018, 3:29 pm

If you were under the impression Henrik Stenson's days of engaging in pre-tournament hijinks at HSBC-sponsored events were over, then you don't know the Swedish Superman.

Ahead of this week's HSBC Abu Dhabi Golf Championship, the 2016 champion golfer of the year decided to have some fun riding (and pretend-spanking) a camel:

If you can't imagine any reason Stenson wouldn't get on a camel, we will point you to the WGC-HSBC Champions back in October, when Stenson, Dustin Johnson, Haotong Li and Hideki Matsuyama took place in this hire-wire act:

Two weeks later, Stenson revealed a rib injury, and a report from the U.K.'s Telegraph stated "that not only was the Shanghai caper to blame, but that Stenson is annoyed about being persuaded to do it in the first place."

Stenson brushed back at that report in this Instagram post, saying that his "comment about not being Superman was a sarcastic way of saying that I am susceptible to injury like any other athlete and sometimes these things happen when you least expect them. I was pleased to help promote the HSBC Champions and to continue my string of success at the event and I was never forced to do anything. HSBC is a great sponsor to golf worldwide and I am not happy to see them being made responsible for my withdrawal."

I’m disappointed to have to pre-emptively withdraw from the Nedbank Golf Challenge Hosted by Gary Player, I was looking forward to this important year-end event on the European Tour. At this point I am back home in Orlando waiting to do a scan on my ribs and get the necessary rest. I am still hoping for a quick recovery and have not ruled out playing in Dubai next week at this point. My comment about not being Superman was a sarcastic way of saying that I am susceptible to injury like any other athlete and sometimes these things happen when you least expect them. I was pleased to help promote the HSBC Champions and to continue my string of success at the event and I was never forced to do anything. HSBC is a great sponsor to golf worldwide and I am not happy to see them being made responsible for my withdrawal. The plan as of now will be to participate in the DP World Championship if my body is back to 100%. H

A post shared by Henrik Stenson (@henrikstenson) on

And it would appear he genuinely meant those comments, at least enough to get on a camel.

Getty Images

Spieth, McIlroy to support Major Champions Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:25 pm

Nick Faldo announced Tuesday the creation of the Major Champions Invitational.

The event, scheduled for March 12-14, is an extension of the Faldo Series and will feature both male and female junior players at Bella Collina in Montverde, Fla.

Jordan Spieth, Rory Mcllroy, Annika Sorenstam, Adam Scott, Henrik Stenson, Jerry Pate and John Daly have already committed to supporting the event, which is aimed at mentoring and inspiring the next generation of players.  

“I’m incredibly excited about hosting the Major Champions Invitational, and about the players who have committed to support the event,” Faldo said. “This event will allow major champions to give something back to the game that has given them so much, and hopefully, in time, it will become one of the most elite junior golf events in the world.”

Getty Images

Rosaforte: Woods plays with Obama, gets rave reviews

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:15 pm

Golf Channel insider Tim Rosaforte reports on Tiger Woods’ recent round at The Floridian in Palm City, Fla., alongside President Barack Obama.

Check out the video, as Rosaforte says Woods received rave reviews from instructor Claude Harmon.