No 9 Million Reasons for Wie to Smile

By George WhiteDecember 16, 2005, 5:00 pm
2005 Stories of the Year - #9Editor's note: TheGolfChannel.com is counting down the top 10 stories from the 2005 golf season. This is Story No. 9.
 
The year began with her missing a cut, this one by six shots, and ended with her missing another cut by one. Along the way she was disqualified in her first-ever appearance as a professional.
 
Michelle Wie
Michelle Wie will face the ladies -- and men -- as a professional in 2006.
But oh, the tournaments in between 12 events in all, four mens events, second or tied for second in three tournaments, tie for third in another. All this from a young woman who was only 15 years old most of the year. Michelle Wie didnt turn 16 until Oct. 11.

On Oct. 5th, though, the young lady from Honolulu turned professional. It ended a guessing game for the media, for interested golf spectators, and numerous corporations who dreamed of having her endorse their product. Michelle Wie decided it was time to play for pay, and now the young woman is headed for destinations unknown.
 
Is it the LPGA? Is it the PGA Tour? Is it somewhere else, perhaps a combination of the PGA Tour, LPGA, European and Asian tours? Or, will Wie flame out with a spectacular flare, plummeting to earth with a deafening thud?
 
Yes, it was an unforgettable year for the Panahou High School student. Shes now the wealthiest 11th-grader in Hawaii. Endorsers showered her with an estimated $9 million ' the largesse heaped on her by Nike clubs and golf balls and electronics giant Sony. Her take for her first year of play is expected to be approximately $11 million, with appearance fees and additional corporate endorsers adding to whatever she earns from tournament purses.
 
'I'm finally happy to say I'm a pro starting today,' Wie said. 'The first time I grabbed a golf club, I knew I'd do it for the rest of my life. Some 12 years later, I'm finally turning pro, and I'm so excited.'
 
Wie, who is represented by the William Morris Agency, immediately pledged $500,000 to the U.S. Golf Hurricane Relief Fund, set up by the major golf organizations, to aid victims of Hurricane Katrina.
 
It has been an outstanding year for Michelle professionally as well as in her personal life. She continues to excel in the classroom at Punahou. And she has made the cut in her last 16 LPGA events dating to 2003, and would have earned about $640,870 on the LPGA had she not been an amateur. That would put her 13th on the money list in only seven starts.
 
And, shes getting closer and closer to success on the mens tours. She reached the quarterfinals of the U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship. And in her last two professional mens outings, she had the cut made until deep in the second round when a series of late miscues doomed her.
 
The year had begun for Wie on something of a downer' she didnt play particularly well, by pro standards, in the Sony Open near her home in Hawaii. She shot 75 the first day, 74 the second, and missed the cut in the PGA Tour event by six shots.
 
Michelle came close to a win at the first LPGA tournament, the SBS Open in Hawaii. There she shot three consecutive 70s to finish in a tie for second place, two shots behind winner Jennifer Rosales.
 
Her next two tries, a tie for 12th at the Safeway International and a tie for 14th at the Kraft Nabisco, were nothing of note. But at the McDonalds LPGA Championship ' an LPGA major - she again played brilliantly, finishing in second by herself this time, three strokes behind winner Annika Sorenstam.
 
Like any person who has achieved a great deal of fame, though, Michelle is well aware that many people are anti-Wie. I'm not the kind of person who will back down because people don't want me here and stuff like that, she said at McDonalds. I'm having fun. I'm not really sure that I get a lot of extra attention, but if I do, that's great. If I don't, that's OK. I'm just really having fun out there.

Wie took a turn again at challenging the gents when she teed it up in the U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship. If she could win it ' which seemed only a remote chance ' she would achieve her lifelong dream of playing in the Masters. And she came much closer than anybody had dared dream, winning three matches before finally losing in the quarterfinals to eventual winner Clay Ogden.
 
Michelles highest finish ever in a professional tournament came at the 2005 McDonalds. And it looked as if she might go all the way to the top when she found herself tied for the lead after three rounds at the U.S. Womens Open. How could someone just 15 years of age be doing so well in a U.S. Open?
 
Michelle Wie
Wie's first event as a pro created quite a controversy.
When I am out there on the golf course, said Wie, I completely forget my age. I don't think anyone really remembers their age, you know - everyone that I know wants to be older than their age right now. So out on the golf course I am a golfer, trying my best.
 
Alas, Sunday was a day of reckoning. Michelle shot an 82, but after the day was finally over, she could still enjoy a little humor.
 
I haven't played this bad in a long time, she said, so I definitely learned a lot of things from today. One of the things I definitely have to get is a GPS for my ball, because it was lost out there today. I mean, put a magnet in the ball or something, because that thing was not going towards the hole.
 
Then came the PGA Tour again, when she was offered a sponsors exemption by the John Deere Classic in July. She put in a solid effort Thursday with a 1-under 70, and was sailing inside the cut line by one when disaster struck her on the 15th hole ' No. 6 ' Friday.
 
It began when she pulled her tee shot into a bunker and then she compounded that error with a three-putt for a double bogey. And, at the next hole ' her 16th ' she also made bogey. Michelle finished with a 71, missing the cut by two shots.

'It was pretty killer,' she said. 'Even though I finished below par, it still feels (bad) because I played so well the first nine and then I just totally messed up the back nine.'
 
At the LPGAs Evian Masters, played in France, she rebounded beautifully to finish again in second place. She was not pleased, however, because she was still eight shots behind the winner, Paula Creamer.
 
I just left so many shots out there, said Wie. I couldn't count how many putts I missed. It's pretty frustrating, but otherwise I'm pretty happy with the way I hit it. I came back yesterday and today and I felt like I improved over those so, it went pretty well.
 
She was still going strong when the next tournament rolled around the following week ' this time another major, the Weetabix Womens British Open. An opening round of 75 in windy, cold and rainy weather put her far behind, but her three final rounds of 67-67-69 meant she would tie for third.
 
We didnt hear from Michelle for several months while she returned to high school in Hawaii. When she surfaced again, she had turned professional. And then, in her first event as a pro, she learned a very painful ' if very valuable ' lesson. Wie learned all about disqualifications.
 
It was at the LPGAs Samsung World Championship, and Michelle got around for four days with a 70-65-71-74 score, which WOULD have been good for fourth place. WOULD have been, if it werent for an incorrect drop she was ruled to have taken Saturday.
 
Officials said that she dropped closer to the hole on No. 15 at Bighorn Golf Club near Palm Springs, Calif. Michael Bamberger of Sports Illustrated magazine observed the drop and on Sunday questioned an official about it. The official reviewed what he could determine were the facts, then reluctantly disqualified Wie.
 
Wie was stunned, but said she had learned a valuable lesson. From now on, she said, Im going to call a rules official, no matter what it is. Three inches or 100 yards is the same thing. I respect that.
 
The year ended with Michelle taking advantage of a sponsors invitation to another mens event, the Casio World Open in Japan. And again it was a heartbreaking missed cut, Wie missing by just one shot when she made bogey on her final two holes.
 
The future may resemble a skyscraper, growing by leaps and bounds to insurmountable heights. Or, it may resemble a meteor, flaming out after a few impressive performances. But one thing is for certain - 2005 was a skyscraper year.
 
Related Links:
  • The Year in Review
  • Michelle Wie's Bio
  • Sony Open Coverage
  • U.S. Women's Open Coverage
  • John Deere Classic Coverage
  • Wie Disqualified in Pro Debut
  • Getty Images

    McIlroy (65) one back in Abu Dhabi through 54

    By Randall MellJanuary 20, 2018, 1:09 pm

    Rory McIlroy moved into position to send a powerful message in his first start of the new year at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

    Closing out with back-to-back birdies Saturday, McIlroy posted a 7-under-par 65, leaving him poised to announce his return to golf in spectacular fashion after a winless year in 2017.

    McIlroy heads into Sunday just a single shot behind the leaders, Thomas Pieters (67) and Ross Fisher (65), who are at 17-under overall at Abu Dhabi Golf Club.

    Making his first start after taking three-and-a-half months off to regroup from an injury-riddled year, McIlroy is looking sharp in his bid to win for the first time in 16 months. He chipped in for birdie from 50 feet at the 17th on Saturday and two-putted from 60 feet for another birdie to finish his round.


    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


    McIlroy took 50 holes before making a bogey in Abu Dhabi. He pushed his tee shot into a greenside bunker at the 15th, where he left a delicate play in the bunker, then barely blasted his third out before holing a 15-footer for bogey.

    McIlroy notably opened the tournament playing alongside world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, who started the new year winning the PGA Tour’s Sentry Tournament of Champions in Hawaii in an eight-shot rout just two weeks ago. McIlroy was grouped in the first two rounds with Johnson and Tommy Fleetwood, the European Tour’s Player of the Year last season. McIlroy sits ahead of both of them going into the final round, with Johnson (68) tied for 12th, four shots back, and Fleetwood (67) tied for fourth, two shots back.

    Those first two rounds left McIlroy feeling good about his off season work.

    “That proves I’m back to full fitness and 100 percent health,” he said going into Saturday. “DJ is definitely the No. 1 player in the world right now and of, if not the best, drivers of the golf ball, and to be up there with him over the first two days proves to me I’m doing the right things and gives me confidence.”

    Getty Images

    Monty grabs lead entering final round in season-opener

    By Associated PressJanuary 20, 2018, 4:00 am

    KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Colin Montgomerie shot a second straight 7-under 65 to take a two-shot lead into the final round of the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

    The 54-year-old Scot, a six-time winner on the over-50 tour, didn't miss a fairway on Friday and made five birdies on the back nine to reach 14 under at Hualalai.

    Montgomerie has made 17 birdies through 36 holes and said he will have to continue cashing in on his opportunities.

    ''We know that I've got to score something similar to what I've done – 66, 67, something like that, at least,'' Montgomerie said. ''You know the competition out here is so strong that if you do play away from the pins, you'll get run over. It's tough, but hey, it's great.''


    Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship


    First-round co-leaders Gene Sauers and Jerry Kelly each shot 68 and were 12 under.

    ''I hit the ball really well. You know, all the putts that dropped yesterday didn't drop today,'' Kelly said. ''I was just short and burning edges. It was good putting again. They just didn't go in.''

    David Toms was three shots back after a 66. Woody Austin, Mark Calcavecchia and Doug Garwood each shot 67 and were another shot behind.

    Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was six shots back after a 67.

    The limited-field tournament on Hawaii's Big Island includes last season's winners, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

    ''We've enjoyed ourselves thoroughly here,'' Montgomerie said. ''It's just a dramatic spot, isn't it? If you don't like this, well, I'm sorry, take a good look in the mirror, you know?''

    Getty Images

    The missing link: Advice from successful tour pros

    By Phil BlackmarJanuary 20, 2018, 1:24 am

    Today’s topic is significant in that it underscores the direction golf is headed, a direction that has me a little concerned.

    Now, more than ever, it has become the norm for PGA Tour players to put together a team to assist in all aspects of their career. These teams can typically include the player’s swing coach, mental coach, manager, workout specialist, dietician, physical therapist, short-game guru, doctor, accountant, nanny and wife. Though it often concerns me the player may be missing out when others are making decisions for them, that is not the topic.

    I want to talk about what most players seem to be inexplicably leaving off their teams.

    One of the things that separates great players from the rest of the pack – other than talent – is the great player’s ability to routinely stay comfortable and play with focus and clarity in all situations. Though innate to many, this skill is trainable and can be learned. Don’t get too excited, the details of such a plan are too long and more suited for a book than the short confines of this article.

    So, if that aspect of the game is so important, where is the representative on the player’s team who has stood on the 18th tee with everything on the line? Where is the representative on the team who has experienced, over and over, what the player will be experiencing? In other words, where is the successful former tour player on the team?

    You look to tennis and many players have such a person on their team. These teacher/mentors include the likes of Boris Becker, Ivan Lendl, Jimmy Connors and Brad Gilbert. Why is it not the norm in golf?

    Sure, a few players have sought out the advice of Jack Nicklaus, but he’s not part of a team. The teaching ranks also include some former players like Butch Harmon and a few others. But how many teams include a player who has contended in a major, let alone won one or more?

    I’m not here to argue the value and knowledge of all the other coaches who make up a player’s team. But how can the value of a successful tour professional be overlooked? If I’m going to ask someone what I should do in various situations on the course, I would prefer to include the experienced knowledge of players who have been there themselves.

    This leads me to the second part of today’s message. Is there a need for the professional players to mix with professional teachers to deliver the best and most comprehensive teaching philosophy to average players? I feel there is.

    Most lessons are concerned with changing the student’s swing. Often, this is done with little regard for how it feels to the student because the teacher believes the information is correct and more important than the “feels” of the student. “Stick with it until it’s comfortable” is often the message. This directive methodology was put on Twitter for public consumption a short time back:

    On the other hand, the professional player is an expert at making a score and understands the intangible side of the game. The intangible side says: “Mechanics cannot stand alone in making a good player.” The intangible side understands “people feel things differently”; ask Jim Furyk to swing like Dustin Johnson, or vice versa. This means something that looks good to us may not feel right to someone else.

    The intangible side lets us know that mechanics and feels must walk together in order for the player to succeed. From Ben Hogan’s book:

    “What I have learned I have learned by laborious trial and error, watching a good player do something that looked right to me, stumbling across something that felt right to me, experimenting with that something to see if it helped or hindered, adopting it if it helped, refining it sometimes, discarding it if it didn’t help, sometimes discarding it later if it proved undependable in competition, experimenting continually with new ideas and old ideas and all manner of variations until I arrived at a set of fundamentals that appeared to me to be right because they accomplished a very definite purpose, a set of fundamentals which proved to me they were right because they stood up and produced under all kinds of pressure.”

    Hogan beautifully described the learning process that could develop the swings of great players like DJ, Furyk, Lee Trevino, Jordan Spieth, Nicklaus, etc.

    Bob Toski is still teaching. Steve Elkington is helping to bring us the insight of Jackie Burke. Hal Sutton has a beautiful teaching facility outside of Houston. And so on. Just like mechanics and feels, it’s not either-or – the best message comes from both teachers and players.

    Lately, it seems the scale has swung more to one side; let us not forget the value of insights brought to us by the players who have best mastered the game.

    Getty Images

    Woods, Rahm, Rickie, J-Day headline Torrey field

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 20, 2018, 12:47 am

    Tiger Woods is set to make his 2018 debut.

    Woods is still part of the final field list for next week’s Farmers Insurance Open, the headliner of a tournament that includes defending champion Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson and Jason Day.

    In all, 12 of the top 26 players in the world are teeing it up at Torrey Pines.

    Though Woods has won eight times at Torrey Pines, he hasn’t broken 71 in his past seven rounds there and hasn’t played all four rounds since 2013, when he won. Last year he missed the cut after rounds of 76-72, then lasted just one round in Dubai before he withdrew with back spasms.

    After a fourth back surgery, Woods didn’t return to competition until last month’s Hero World Challenge, where he tied for ninth. 

    Woods has committed to play both the Farmers Insurance Open and next month's Genesis Open at Riviera, which benefits his foundation.