No 10 Wie Nearly Upset the World

By George WhiteDecember 15, 2004, 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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    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.

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    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

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    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 Web.com 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."

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    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.

    @tommyfleetwood_1

    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.