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
  • Full Coverage - '04 Sony Open in Hawaii
  • Getty Images

    Hadwin returns to site of last year's 59

    By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 11:04 pm

    Adam Hadwin had a career season last year, one that included shooting a 59 and winning a PGA Tour event. But those two achievements didn't occur in the same week.

    While Hadwin's breakthrough victory came at the Valspar Championship in March, it was at the CareerBuilder Challenge in January when he first made headlines with a third-round 59 at La Quinta Country Club. Hadwin took a lead into the final round as a result, but he ultimately couldn't keep pace with Hudson Swafford.

    He went on to earn a spot at the Tour Championship, and Hadwin made his first career Presidents Cup appearance in October. Now the Canadian returns to Palm Springs, eager to improve on last year's result and hoping to earn a spot in the final group for a third straight year after a T-6 finish in 2016.

    "A lot of good memories here in the desert," Hadwin told reporters. "I feel very comfortable here, very at home. Lots of Canadians, so it's always fun to play well in front of those crowds and hopefully looking forward to another good week."

    Hadwin's 59 last year was somewhat overshadowed, both by the fact that he didn't win the event and that it came just one week after Justin Thomas shot a 59 en route to victory at the Sony Open. But he's still among an exclusive club of just eight players to have broken 60 in competition on Tour and he's eager to get another crack at La Quinta on Saturday.

    "If I'm in the same position on 18, I'm gunning for 58 this year," Hadwin said, "not playing safe for 59."

    Getty Images

    Rahm: If I thought like Phil, I could not hit a shot

    By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 10:39 pm

    When it comes to Jon Rahm and Phil Mickelson, there are plenty of common bonds. Both starred at Arizona State, both are now repped by the same agency and Rahm's former college coach and agent, Tim Mickelson, now serves full-time as his brother's caddie.

    Those commonalities mean the two men have played plenty of practice rounds together, but the roads quickly diverge when it comes to on-course behavior. Rahm is quick, fiery and decisive; Mickelson is one of the most analytical players on Tour. And as Rahm told reporters Wednesday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, those differences won't end anytime soon.

    "I don't need much. 'OK, it's like 120 (yards), this shot, right," Rahm said. "And then you have Phil, it's like, 'Oh, this shot, the moisture, this going on, this is like one mile an hour wind sideways, it's going to affect it one yard. This green is soft, this trajectory. They're thinking, and I'm like, 'I'm lost.' I'm like, 'God if I do that thought process, I could not hit a golf shot.'"


    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


    The tactics may be more simplified, but Rahm can't argue with the results. While Mickelson is in the midst of a winless drought that is approaching five years, Rahm won three times around the world last year and will defend a PGA Tour title for the first time next week at Torrey Pines.

    Both men are in the field this week in Palm Springs, where Mickelson will make his 2018 debut with what Rahm fully expects to be another dose of high-level analytics for the five-time major winner with his brother on the bag.

    "It's funny, he gets to the green and then it's the same thing. He's very detail-oriented," Rahm said of Mickelson. "I'm there listening and I'm like, 'Man, I hope we're never paired together for anything because I can't think like this. I would not be able to play golf like that. But for me to listen to all that is really fun."

    Getty Images

    DJ changes tune on golf ball distance debate

    By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 9:16 pm

    World No. 1 Dustin Johnson is already one of the longest hitters in golf, so he's not looking for any changes to be made to golf ball technology - despite comments from him that hinted at just such a notion two months ago.

    Johnson is in the Middle East this week for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and he told BBC Sport Wednesday that he wouldn't be in favor of making changes to the golf ball in order to remedy some of the eye-popping distances players are hitting the ball with ever-increasing frequency.

    "It's not like we are dominating golf courses," Johnson said. "When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy? I don't really understand what all the debate is about because it doesn't matter how far it goes; it is about getting it in the hole."

    Johnson's rhetorical question might be answered simply by looking back at his performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions earlier this month, an eight-shot romp that featured a tee shot on the 433-yard 12th hole that bounded down a slope to within inches of the hole.

    Johnson appeared much more willing to consider a reduced-distance ball option at the Hero World Challenge in November, when he sat next to tournament host Tiger Woods and supported Woods' notion that the ball should be addressed.

    "I don't mind seeing every other professional sport, they play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball," Johnson said. "In baseball, the guys that are bigger and stronger, they can hit a baseball a lot further than the smaller guys. ... I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage."

    Speaking Wednesday in Abu Dhabi, Johnson stood by the notion that regardless of whether the rules change or stay the same, he plans to have a leg up on the competition.

    "If the ball is limited then it is going to limit everyone," he said. "I'm still going to hit it that much further than I guess the average Tour player."

    Getty Images

    LPGA lists April date for new LA event

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 17, 2018, 8:18 pm

    The LPGA’s return to Los Angeles will come with the new Hugel-JTBC Open being played at Wilshire Country Club April 19-22, the tour announced Wednesday.

    When the LPGA originally released its schedule, it listed the Los Angeles event with the site to be announced at a later date.

    The Hugel-JTBC Open will feature a 144-player field and a $1.5 million purse. It expands the tour’s West Coast swing, which will now be made up of four events in California in March and April.

    The LPGA last played in Los Angeles in 2005. Wilshire Country Club hosted The Office Depot in 2001, with Annika Sorenstam winning there.