Like Her or Not Wie Ready to Play

By George WhiteMarch 28, 2006, 5:00 pm
RANCHO MIRAGE, Cal. - For the moment, she was simply Michelle Wie, full-time high school student, part-time golfer. It was Monday at the Kraft-Nabisco Championship, and she was finishing up a practice round on No. 18 at the Mission Hills golf course.
No more than 10 people were there when she came off the green. Her coach, David Leadbetter, was there with her, as was her father. But the throngs of the curious, the well-wishers and the gawkers, were absent. It was Michelle and the golf course.
Tuesday was different. By Tuesday, the spectators had begun to arrive en masse. She was a curiosity once again, a 6-foot-1 16-year-old with the size-10 shoe who had a thousand people craning their necks to get a glimpse of her and her well-oiled swing. She no longer was just a high school kid. She was Michelle Wie from Hawaii, Kraft Nabisco entrant, a professional, a lightning rod of public focus who is at the same admired and loathed.
Admired, simply because some people admire a teen-ager who can do such wonderful things to a golf ball. Loathed, because she dares at times to play in mens tournaments. And loathed, because there are many people who think that a high school kid has no business playing in professional events, be it against men OR women.
Wie has learned this, of course, at her young age. And, like the proverbial duck, she has learned to let it slide off her back. She has goals in mind, things she wants to do, mountains she wants to conquer, and she is determined to do those things, whatever anyone thinks of her.
Everyone has a right to say whatever they want to say, she said again Tuesday. Everyone should have that right.
Does she ever have to bite her tongue to refrain from answering her critics? No, not really, she said, kidding just a little bit. Im not trying to bite my tongue ' that would hurt. Im just out here telling my story.
The women of the LPGA happen to agree with her. If she can compete against the men, then she should.
She's proven that she can compete with the best women golfers in the world, says veteran Jill McGill, and if she feels as though her goal is to play against the men and play on the PGA TOUR, who am I to say no?
If that's what you want to do, I wish her the best of luck. I hope she does accomplish it, because I think that she does nothing but good things not only for the women, but also for the men. I think it draws more attention to them. I think it draws a lot of attention to our tour. And I get a little tired of people saying, Oh, you know, her aspirations are too high.
Wie hasnt been seen for six weeks, since she came in third in the Fields Open. Since then she has just been a student, a junior in high school in Honolulu. Thats the price one pays when one tries to eke out a few pro events amongst long periods of doing what most 16-year-olds do ' being a typical teen-ager.
I try to play more rounds (when home in Hawaii), she says. I act like Im in a tournament. OK, this is the first round, this is the second round. I try to get into a rhythm.
But I feel Ive been doing a lot of good quality practice my off-season. But Ive been going to school, Ive been studying really hard, unfortunately, and just having a regular life. And I think Ive been having a lot of fun doing that.
Time, of course, is limited when she plays these make-believe rounds in make-believe tournaments. She has to squeeze in a full tournament in only the four hours she has before it gets dark. And that is a real challenge.
For instance, I usually play two balls, she explained her practices. So I play 36 holes in 18 holes, because I dont have that much time. So Ill shoot like 12-under in two rounds. And Im like on the l8th green and Im at 11-under and Ill like putt for birdie. And thats how Im training myself.
The make-believe tournaments, of course, can never approximate real competition. The rest of the LPGA can be in California or Florida or Arizona playing a real tournament course. Wie has to get her competition, by and large, from these imaginary opponents.
Obviously, its very different because its not tournament conditions, says Wie. Its just regular play conditions. But the greens ' Ive been practicing a lot at Ko Olina (where the LPGA plays a tournament). I am a member at Waialae (home of a PGA Tour event). The greens are fabulous. So, Ive been practicing a lot more that I have in a long time.
Wie is a professional now ' she turned pro at the end of last year and now gets to earn paychecks. But she says many of the people she knows were not aware she hadnt already turned professional.
No one at school really knew the difference between a professional and an amateur, said Wie, laughing. Theyre like, What? You just turned pro? I thought you were already a pro.
And Im like, No, I was an amateur. People really dont know the difference.
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - Kraft Nabisco Championship
  • TV Airtimes
  • Getty Images

    Kelly, Sauers co-lead in Hawaii; Monty, Couples in mix

    By Associated PressJanuary 19, 2018, 3:52 am

    KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii - Fresh off a solid performance on Oahu, Jerry Kelly shot an 8-under 64 on the Big Island on Thursday to share the first-round lead at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

    The 51-year-old Kelly, who tied for 14th at the PGA Tour's Sony Open last week in Honolulu, birdied five of his final seven holes to shoot 30 on the back nine at Hualalai. He won twice last season, his first on the over-50 tour.

    Gene Sauers also shot 64, going bogey-free amid calm conditions. Thirty-two of the 44 players broke par in the limited-field event, which includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

    Rocco Mediate and Colin Montgomerie were one shot back, and Fred Couples, Kevin Sutherland and Kirk Triplett were another shot behind.

    Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was in the middle of the pack after a 69.

    Getty Images

    Rahm (62) fires career low round

    By Will GrayJanuary 19, 2018, 12:03 am

    The scores were predictably low during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge, where the top-ranked player in the field currently sits atop the standings. Here's how things look after the first day in Palm Springs as Jon Rahm is out to an early advantage:

    Leaderboard: Jon Rahm (-10), Austin Cook (-9), Andrew Landry (-9), Jason Kokrak (-9), Brandon Harkins (-8), Martin Piller (-8), Aaron Wise (-8), Beau Hossler (-8)

    What it means: Rahm is coming off a runner-up finish two weeks ago at Kapalua, and he picked up right where he left off with a 10-under 62 at La Quinta Country Club. It marked his lowest career round on the PGA Tour, and it gave him a one-shot lead heading to the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Cook is the only player within two shots of Rahm who has won already on Tour.

    Round of the day: Rahm got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under, and he made it around La Quinta without dropping a shot. The 62 bettered his previous career low on Tour by two shots and it included an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole to go along with eight birdies.

    Best of the rest: Cook was a winner earlier this season at the RSM Classic, and he's now in the mix for trophy No. 2 following a 9-under 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Like Rahm, he opened with a seven-hole stretch at 6 under and turned in a scorecard without a bogey. He'll now head to the more difficult Stadium Course for his second round.

    Biggest disappointment: Patrick Reed blitzed the three-course rotation in Palm Springs en route to his first career Tour title back in 2014, but he's unlikely to repeat that feat after opening with a 2-over 74 on the Nicklaus Tournament course. Reed made only one birdie against three bogeys and was one of only 32 players in the 156-man field who failed to break par in the opening round.

    Main storyline heading into Friday: Rahm deserves the spotlight, as he entered the week as one of the event's headliners and did nothing to lose that billing in the opening round. But the pack of contenders is sure to keep pace, while players like Phil Mickelson (-2) will look to put up a low score in order to build some momentum heading into the weekend.

    Shot of the day: Wesley Bryan's 7-under 65 on the Nicklaus Tournament course was helped in large part by an eagle on the par-4 10th, where he holed a 54-degree wedge from 112 yards away. Bryan went on to birdie the next hole amid a five-hole stretch of 5 under play.

    Quote of the day: "Shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for." - Rahm

    Getty Images

    Recent winner Cook contending at CareerBuilder

    By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:45 pm

    Patton Kizzire is currently the only two-time PGA Tour winner this season, but Austin Cook hopes to join him this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

    Cook won for the first time in November at the RSM Classic, a victory that catapaulted him from the Tour graduate category into an entirely new echelon. Cook notched a pair of top-25 finishes over the last two weeks in Hawaii, and he's again in the mix after an opening 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course left him one shot behind Jon Rahm.

    "Today was great," Cook told reporters. "The conditions were perfect, but I always loved desert golf and I was just hitting the ball well and seeing good lines on the greens and hitting good putts."

    Cook got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under highlighted by an eagle on the par-5 fourth hole. He briefly entertained the notion of a sub-60 round after birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 before closing with six pars and a birdie.

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

    Cook was a relative unknown before his victory at Sea Island earlier this season, but now with the flexibility and confidence afforded by a win he hopes to build on his burgeoning momentum this week in California.

    "That was a big, proud moment for myself, knowing that I can finish a tournament," Cook said. "I think it was one of those things that I've proven to myself that now I can do it, and it just meant the world to me."

    Getty Images

    Photo: Fleetwood's phone cover is picture of Bjorn

    By Jason CrookJanuary 18, 2018, 11:40 pm

    There's phone covers and then there are Phone Covers.

    Paul Casey has himself a Phone Cover, showing off the protective case that features a picture of his wife at last year's U.S. Open.

    Now, it appears, Tommy Fleetwood has joined the movement.

    Fleetwood, last year's season-long Race to Dubai winner, has a phone cover with a picture of Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn on it. And not even a current Thomas Bjorn. This is a young Bjorn. A hair-having Bjorn.


    A post shared by Alex Noren (@alexnoren1) on

    The 26-year-old is a virtual lock for this year's European Ryder Cup team, but just in case, he's carrying around a phone with a picture of the team captain attached to the back of it.

    It's a bold strategy, Cotton. Let's see if it pays off for him.