Wie getting the best of both worlds

By Doug FergusonFebruary 14, 2012, 9:04 pm

PALO ALTO, Calif. - Michelle Wie did not go to Stanford to play golf, at least not the game that brought her worldwide fame as a teenager.

“One time, me and a couple of guys played campus golf,” said Wie, sitting in a coffee house on campus after her longest day of classes. “You hit tennis balls with a golf club. You start at the frats and end at the fountain, so that’s like one hole. We hit cars, we hit some bikers. Just goofy things that you don’t usually do.”

These are the goofy times she wouldn’t trade for anything.

Moments like tailgating at the Fiesta Bowl before Stanford played Oklahoma State. Sitting - mostly standing, actually - in the student section behind the bench at Cardinal basketball games. Spending all day roasting a pig before a Super Bowl party. Catching up with friends at the Coho Cafe, where cartoon figures of famous alumni are painted on the walls.

There’s a caricature of Fed chairman Ben Bernanke, and even one of Tiger Woods, who won an NCAA title at Stanford. Wie’s face is not among them. She’s a student, just like everyone else.

And she appears to be loving life more than ever.

“My life has progressed in various ways than I thought it was going to,” said Wie, who laughs easily these days. “I’m more rooted in what I’m doing. I guess that’s called growing up.”

For much of her teenage years, all Wie heard was that she was going about life the wrong way. She was playing too much golf, way too early. She was playing against the men. She turned pro as a junior in high school.

Turns out she knew what she was doing all along.

In an era where young players don’t make it all the way through college, if they even go to college, Wie has had the best of both worlds. She’s an LPGA Tour player who has two career wins and finished 18th on the money list last year. And she’s a senior at Stanford, expected to finish next month and go through graduation in June with a degree in communications.

“I think she’s happiest when she’s at school,” said Juli Inkster, who occasionally sees Wie when she comes out to Los Altos Country Club to practice. Inkster’s husband, Brian, is the head pro.

“Time will tell as far as her golf,” Inkster said. “I still think she’s got the talent to be really good. I’m not sure what she wants. She’s still got a ton of talent. And she’s happy being a student. She had a boyfriend on the football team. She said she’s graduating this year. It’s pretty impressive.”

Wie’s parents live near campus, and they accompany her when she practices and when she plays on the LPGA Tour. She is playing her first tournament this week in Thailand, and will stay out for the HSBC Women’s Champions in Singapore. Wie also travels with a Pomeranian she named Lola, which she bought on a whim after browsing through a pet store. College kids are impulsive that way.

It’s easy to speculate that Wie’s development as a player has been slowed by not devoting herself entirely to golf. She looks at it from a different perspective.

What if she had never gone to college?

“I might not be playing,” she said. “I might be burned out. I’m not a person who 24 hours a day can only think, live, eat and breathe golf. I’m not that kind of a person. If I did that, I might be fed up with it. Here, I learned how to live on my own, to do things on my own. My relationship with my parents changed. You change from being a kid to someone your parents respect.”

Wie first gained attention when she played in a junior-pro event at the Sony Open at age 12, and PGA Tour players would stop to watch her swing on the practice range. It was Tom Lehman who called her the “Big Wiesy,” because the fluid swing reminded him of Ernie Els.

She won the U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links at age 13, the youngest USGA winner of an event with no age limit. A year later, she shot 68 in the Sony Open and missed the cut by one shot. She shared the 54-hole lead at the U.S. Women’s Open at 15, and the next year had a chance to win three LPGA majors on the back nine.

Even when Annika Sorenstam was at the height of her game, Wie drew the biggest crowds.

That began to change when she injured her wrist - only later finding out she had broken three bones - and continued to play. She withdrew from one tournament on the verge of shooting 88, which would have meant being ineligible to play the LPGA Tour for a year, then showed up the next week for a major. She broke par only twice that year. She withdrew from the Women’s Open.

She looked miserable. She was miserable.

What saved her was showing up at The Farm to start her freshman year.

“A lot of my life, I was doing … even now, going to college, I’m not doing what everyone thinks I should be doing. Everyone has an opinion about me,” Wie said. “I knew I wanted to go to school. After I had my injury, it changed the way I was thinking. I was struggling out there. It was a struggle every day to practice. And it made me realize that I’ve got to enjoy what I’m doing.

“Winning tournaments and being unhappy is not going to cut it.”

That she has made it through Stanford in less than five years is astounding. Wie figured it might take at least six. She takes school work on the road, mixes a full load of classes with practice when she’s home.

And while she is regarded as a part-time player, Wie plays as many tournaments as Woods.

“Ten years ago, all the stories were she was pushing too hard, playing with the guys, she’s going to burn out, and you know how this ends. Another example of a person who didn’t follow the right path and go to school,” LPGA commissioner Mike Whan said. “Jump forward, and she’s top 20 in the world (No. 17), taking 18 credit hours, she’s getting a degree from Stanford.

“I believe the best for her is coming,” he said. “She really got it when everyone else predicted she wouldn’t. She got the last laugh. The coolest thing about Michelle Wie is she likes her life. And we all predicted she’d hate her life.”

Wie has always been about looking forward, though there is one regret. She was playing an LPGA event in 2007 and missed her high school graduation. She won’t make that mistake twice.

“I’ve already checked the schedule,” she said, beaming. “There’s no tournament that week. I’m going.”

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Cabrera and son win PNC Father/Son Challenge

By Associated PressDecember 17, 2017, 11:36 pm

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.

Rose wins; Aphibarnrat earns Masters bid in Indonesia

By Will GrayDecember 17, 2017, 1:59 pm

Justin Rose continued his recent run of dominance in Indonesia, while Kiradech Aphibarnrat snagged a Masters invite with some 72nd-hole dramatics.

Rose cruised to an eight-shot victory at the Indonesian Masters, carding bookend rounds of 10-under 62 that featured a brief run at a 59 during the final round. The Englishman was the highest-ranked player in the field and he led wire-to-wire, with Thailand's Phachara Khongwatmai finishing second.

Rose closes out the year as perhaps the hottest player in the world, with top-10 finishes in each of his final 10 worldwide starts. That stretch includes three victories, as Rose also won the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open. He hasn't finished outside the top 10 in a tournament since missing the cut at the PGA Championship.

Meanwhile, it took until the final hole of the final tournament of 2017 for Aphibarnrat to secure a return to the Masters. The Thai entered the week ranked No. 56 in the world, with the top 50 in the year-end world rankings earning invites to Augusta National. Needing an eagle on the 72nd hole, Aphibarnrat got just that to snag solo fifth place.

It means that he is projected to end the year ranked No. 49, while Japan's Yusaku Miyazato - who started the week ranked No. 58 and finished alone in fourth - is projected to finish No. 50. Aphibarnrat finished T-15 in his Masters debut in 2016, while Miyazato will make his first appearance in the spring.

The results in Indonesia mean that American Peter Uihlein and South Africa's Dylan Frittelli are projected to barely miss the year-end, top-50 cutoff. Their options for Masters qualification will include winning a full-point PGA Tour event in early 2018 or cracking the top 50 by the final March 25 cutoff.

Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 11:23 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. birdied their last three holes for a 13-under 59 to take a one-shot lead Saturday in the PNC Father-Son Challenge.

Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open champion, is making his debut in this popular 36-hole scramble. His son said he practiced hard for 10 days. What helped put him at ease was watching his father make so many putts.

''We combined very well,'' Cabrera said. ''When I hit a bad shot, he hit a good one. That's the key.''

They had a one-shot lead over Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara, who are playing for the first time. That included a birdie on the last hole, which O'Meara attributed to the strength of his son.

''My little man hit it 58 yards by me on the 18th,'' said O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion in 1998. ''It's a little easier coming in with a 6-iron.''

Defending champions David Duval and Nick Karavites rallied over the back nine at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for a 61. They are trying to become the first father-son team to repeat as winners since Bernhard and Stefan Langer in 2006. Larry Nelson won two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but with different sons.

''I'd imagine we have to break 60 tomorrow to have a chance to win, but hey, stranger things have happened,'' Duval said. ''I've even done it myself.''

Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic to win in 1999 on his way to reaching No. 1 in the world that year.

Duval and his stepson were tied with Bernhard Langer and 17-year-old Jason Langer, who made two eagles on the last five holes. This Langer tandem won in 2014.

Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.

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Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 16, 2017, 5:46 pm

Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.

Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”

Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told GolfChannel.com that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.

Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.

The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.