No 10 Wie Nearly Upset the World - COPIED - COPIED

By George WhiteDecember 7, 2005, 5:00 pm
2004 Stories of the YearEditor's note: We are counting down the top 10 stories in golf for the 2004 season. This is Story No. 10.
 
While the rest of her ninth grade class was busy taking semester exams, Michelle Wie was taking on the men of the PGA Tour.
 
Given a pass by the Punahou School faculty, Michelle was able to take the exams a week early. Given an exemption by the organizers of the Sony Open, Wie was able to play against the men of the PGA Tour at the age of 14. What she nearly accomplished will be discussed for a long time.
 
January was an unforgettable month for Michelle. A native of Honolulu, she played in the Mercedes Championships Pro-Am. She met Tiger Woods and Ernie Els. The following week she played a practice round with Els at the Sony. And then came the Sony itself.
 
Els was impressed by the 14-year-old before the tournament ever begin. Michelles first shot in the practice round was a 3-wood off the 10th tee that quickly got Els attention, bounding 20 yards past the South African. I mean, first swing was perfect, he said.

To be honest with you, I don't think I've ever seen a lady golfer swing the club as good as Michelle does, said Els, who was to eventually win the Sony. Annika, obviously, swings it great, but I think when Michelle gets down into her stride, she's going to be hitting the ball as long as any woman has ever hit it before.
 
She had played the Waialea course approximately 35 times leading up to the tournament, with a best score in practice of 65. Thursday Wie played her first official round against the men of the PGA Tour, and after hitting primarily to the fat part of the greens, shot a 2-over-par 72.
 
The first hole I was a little bit shaky, said Michelle. It was my first time in a PGA event. But I know what's going to happen if I go left or I know what's going to happen if I go right. All I had to do was hit it.
 
I knew what was going to happen. I felt like I was going to hit my first shot good, and after I hit my first shot, just the nervousness went away.
 
She was pleased with the result, even though she knew she would need to improve if she were to make the cut.
 
I think I played pretty good today, she said after the first round. My driver was very good. I found fairways a lot today, and I thought my irons would be a little bit closer to the hole, but they were on the green, so I was happy. I think I was putting very well today but they just wouldn't go in.
 
Jesper Parnevik, for one, was very impressed.
 
I think it's 100 times more impressive than Annika playing Colonial,' he said. But Wie was still nine shots behind leader Carlos Franco.
 
Day 2 was a different ' four shots different. And it began with a prodigious putting display. Wie made a 60-footer, a 50-footer, and one-putted 13 greens. She had only 23 total putts for the day ' championship golf by any standards, unbelievable golf for a person so young. Her putt total tied her for the tournament lead.
 
But she didnt hit the other clubs as well as she did on Thursday. She hit only eight fairways, missing six. And she missed four more fairways than she did the first day.
 
But ' she still had a chance as she came up the par-5 18th on Friday. An eagle would have done it. However, her chip wouldnt fall, and she was left to tap in for birdie. As it developed, she at first thought she had done the unthinkable ' made the cut.
 
Just one more shot and I would have made it, she wailed when it was over. It's killing me now.
 
I thought I just have to make a birdie to make it. Even par, it usually makes it. I was like, I'll be very sad if the cut was 1-under par - and it was.
 
Her two-round score of 140 was the same number as a lot of big tour names, among then Jim Furyk, Chad Campbell, Kenny Perry, Jeff Maggert and Darren Clarke. Among those whom she beat were British Open champion Todd Hamilton, Zach Johnson, Tom Pernice, Jr., Scott Hoch, Adam Scott, Notah Begay and Skip Kendall.
 
Her playing partner, Craig Bowden, was tremendously impressed with the way she conducted herself.
 
Yeah, I didn't expect her to play like she played, said Bowden. I mean, you know, she's 14 years old, and she beat a lot of guys. She missed the cut by a shot, and unfortunate because it would have really done something for her and the game of golf. What an attribute it would have been to this tournament. And she played good. She played great golf.
 
What impressed Bowden the most?
 
She just handles herself really well. I know she was nervous coming down the stretch. I felt bad for her because I know what she's going through. It's hard. It's a hard scenario. The cameras are in her face and the media guys, you guys. She handles herself incredible.
 
'She grinded, man. She got after it. She got after it. And there was no novelty in her game. There's no novelty at all in her game. She's got game. I'm impressed. I'm impressed -- I don't even care that she's a girl.'
 
Michelle was to go on to play seven LPGA tournaments and made the cut in every one. She tied for fourth in one major, the Nabisco Championship, and tied for 13th at the Women'sU.S. Open. Wie would have won $270,000 in the seven events were she not an amateur ' good for 44th place on the LPGA money list.
 
She also played in several amateur events, including taking a turn on the winning U.S. Curtis Cup squad. She lost in the second round of the U.S. Womens Amateur and made it to the finals of the womens Public Links before losing.
 
  • 2004 Year in Review
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    Stock Watch: Spieth searching for putting form

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 16, 2018, 1:50 pm

    Each week on GolfChannel.com, we’ll examine which players’ stocks and trends are rising and falling in the world of golf.

    RISING

    Patton Kizzire (+8%): By today’s accelerated standards, he’s a late bloomer, having reached the Tour at age 29. Well, he seems right at home now, with two wins in his last four starts.

    Rory (+7%): Coming off the longest break of his career, McIlroy should have no excuses this year. He’s healthy. Focused. Motivated. It’s go time.

    Chris Paisley (+5%): The best part about his breakthrough European Tour title that netted him $192,000? With his wife, Keri, on the bag, he doesn’t have to cut 10 percent to his caddie – she gets the whole thing.

    Brooke Henderson (+3%): A seventh-place finish at the Diamond Resorts Invitational doesn’t sound like much for a five-time winner, but this came against the men – on a cold, wet, windy, 6,700-yard track. She might be the most fun player to watch on the LPGA. 

    New European Ryder Cuppers (+2%): In something of a Ryder Cup dress rehearsal, newcomers Tommy Fleetwood and Tyrrell Hatton each went undefeated in leading Europe to a come-from-behind victory at the EurAsia Cup. The competition come September will be, um, a bit stiffer.



    FALLING

    Jordan’s putting (-1%): You can sense his frustration in interviews, and why not? In two starts he leads the Tour in greens in regulation … and ranks 201st (!) in putting. Here’s guessing he doesn’t finish the year there.

    Brian Harman’s 2018 Sundays (-2%): The diminutive left-hander now has five consecutive top-10s, and he’s rocketing up the Ryder Cup standings, but you can’t help but wonder how much better the start to his year might have been. In the final pairing each of the past two weeks, he’s a combined 1 under in those rounds and wasn’t much of a factor.

    Tom Hoge (-3%): Leading by one and on the brink of a life-changing victory – he hadn’t been able to keep his card each of the past three years – Hoge made an absolute mess of the 16th, taking double bogey despite having just 156 yards for his approach. At least now he’s on track to make the playoffs for the first time.

    Predicting James Hahn’s form (-4%): OK, we give up: He’d gone 17 events without a top-15 before his win at Riviera; 12 before his win at Quail Hollow; and seven before he lost on the sixth playoff hole at Waialae. The margins between mediocre play and winning apparently are THAT small.

    Barnrat (-5%): Coming in hot with four consecutive top-10s, and one of only two team members ranked inside the top 50 in the world, Kiradech Aphibarnrat didn’t show up at the EurAsia Cup, going 0-3 for the week. In hindsight, the Asian team had no chance without his contributions. 

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    Langer not playing to pass Irwin, but he just might

    By Tim RosaforteJanuary 16, 2018, 1:40 pm

    Bernhard Langer goes back out on tour this week to chase down more than Hale Irwin’s PGA Tour Champions record of 45 career victories. His chase is against himself.

    “I’m not playing to beat Hale Irwin’s record,” Langer told me before heading to Hawaii to defend his title at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai. “I play golf to play the best I can, to be a good role model, and to enjoy a few more years that are left.”

    Langer turned 60 on Aug. 27 and was presented a massage chair by his family as a birthday gift. Instead of reclining (which he does to watch golf and football), he won three more times to close out a seven-win campaign that included three major championships. A year prior, coming off a four-victory season, Langer told me after winning his fourth Charles Schwab Cup that surpassing Irwin’s record was possible but not probable. With 36 career victories and 11 in his last two years, he has changed his tone to making up the nine-tournament difference as “probable.”

    “If I could continue a few more years on that ratio, I could get close or pass him,” Langer told me from his home in Boca Raton, Fla. “It will get harder. I’m 60 now. It’s a big challenge but I don’t shy away from challenges.”


    Bernhard Langer, Hale Irwin at the 1991 Ryder Cup (Getty Images)


    Langer spent his off-season playing the PNC Father/Son, taking his family on a ski vacation at Big Sky in Yellowstone, Montana, and to New York for New Year’s. He ranks himself as a scratch skier, having skied since he was four years old in Germany. The risk of injury is worth it, considering how much he loves “the scenery, the gravity and the speed.”

    Since returning from New York, Langer has immersed himself into preparing for the 2018 season. Swing coach Willy Hoffman, who he has worked with since his boyhood days as an as assistant pro in Germany, flew to Florida for their 43rd year of training.

    “He’s a straight shooter,” Hoffman told me. “He says, 'Willy, every hour is an hour off my life and we have 24 hours every day.'"

    As for Irwin, they have maintained a respectful relationship that goes back to their deciding singles match in the 1991 Ryder Cup. Last year they were brought back to Kiawah Island for a corporate appearance where they reminisced and shared the thought that nobody should ever have to bear what Langer went through, missing a 6-footer on the 18th green. That was 27 years ago. Both are in the Hall of Fame.

    "I enjoy hanging out with Hale," Langer says.

    Langer’s chase of Irwin’s record is not going to change their legacies. As Hoffman pointed out, “Yes, (Bernhard) is a rich man compared to his younger days. He had no money, no nothing. But today you don’t feel a difference when you talk to him. He’s always on the ground.”

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    McIlroy: Ryder Cup won't be as easy as USA thinks

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 16, 2018, 1:18 pm

    The Americans have won their past two international team competitions by a combined score of 38-22, but Rory McIlroy isn’t expecting another pushover at the Ryder Cup in September.

    McIlroy admitted that the U.S. team will be strong, and that its core of young players (including Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler) will be a force for the next decade. But he told reporters Tuesday at the HSBC Abu Dhabi Championship that course setup will play a significant role.

    “If you look at Hazeltine and how they set the course up – big, wide fairways, no rough, pins in the middle of greens – it wasn’t set up for the way the Europeans like to play,” McIlroy said, referring to the Americans’ 17-11 victory in 2016. “I think Paris will be a completely different kettle of fish, so different.”

    At every Ryder Cup, the home team has the final say on course setup. Justin Rose was the most outspoken about the setup at Hazeltine, saying afterward that it was “incredibly weak” and had a “pro-am feel.” 

    And so this year’s French Open figures to be a popular stop for European Tour players – it’s being held once again at Le Golf National, site of the matches in September. Tommy Fleetwood won last year’s event at 12 under.

    “I’m confident,” McIlroy said. “Everything being all well and good, I’ll be on that team and I feel like we’ll have a really good chance.

    “The Americans have obviously been buoyant about their chances, but it’s never as easy as that. The Ryder Cup is always close. It always comes down to a few key moments, and it will be no different in Paris. I think we’ll have a great team and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.” 

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    Floodlights may be used at Dubai Desert Classic

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 16, 2018, 12:44 pm

    No round at next week’s Dubai Desert Classic will be suspended because of darkness.

    Tournament officials have installed state-of-the-art floodlighting around the ninth and 18th greens to ensure that all 132 players can finish their round.

    With the event being moved up a week in the schedule, the European Tour was initially concerned about the amount of daylight and trimmed the field to 126 players. Playing under the lights fixed that dilemma.

    “This is a wonderful idea and fits perfectly with our desire to bring innovation to our sport,” European Tour chief executive Keith Pelley said. “No professional golfer ever wants to come back the following morning to complete a round due to lack of daylight, and this intervention, should it be required, will rule out that necessity.”

    Next week’s headliners include Rory McIlroy, Sergio Garcia and Henrik Stenson.