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

    Mackay still a caddie at heart, even with a microphone

    By Doug FergusonJanuary 16, 2018, 7:34 pm

    HONOLULU – All it took was one week back on the bag to remind Jim ''Bones'' Mackay what he always loved about being a caddie.

    It just wasn't enough for this to be the ultimate mic drop.

    Mackay traded in his TV microphone at the Sony Open for the 40-pound bag belonging to Justin Thomas.

    It was his first time caddying since he split with Phil Mickelson six months ago. Mackay was only a temporary replacement at Waialae for Jimmy Johnson, a good friend and Thomas' regular caddie who has a nasty case of plantar fasciitis that will keep him in a walking boot for the next month.

    ''The toughest thing about not caddying is missing the competition, not having a dog in the fight,'' Mackay said before the final round. ''There's nothing more rewarding as a caddie, in general terms, when you say, 'I don't like 6-iron, I like 7,' and being right. I miss that part of it.''

    The reward now?

    ''Not stumbling over my words,'' he said. ''And being better than I was the previous week.''

    He has done remarkably well since he started his new job at the British Open last summer, except for that time he momentarily forgot his role. Parts of that famous caddie adage – ''Show up, keep up, shut up'' – apparently can apply to golf analysts on the ground.

    During the early hours of the telecast, before Johnny Miller came on, Justin Leonard was in the booth.

    ''It's my job to report on what I see. It's not my job to ask questions,'' Mackay said. ''I forgot that for a minute.''

    Leonard was part of a booth discussion on how a comfortable pairing can help players trying to win a major. That prompted Mackay to ask Leonard if he found it helpful at the 1997 British Open when he was trying to win his first major and was paired with Fred Couples in the final round at Royal Troon.

    ''What I didn't know is we were going to commercial in six seconds,'' Mackay said. ''I would have no way of knowing that, but I completely hung Justin out to dry. He's now got four seconds to answer my long-winded question.''

    During the commercial break, the next voice Mackay heard belonged to Tommy Roy, the executive golf producer at NBC.

    ''Bones, don't ever do that again.''

    It was Roy who recognized the value experienced caddies could bring to a telecast. That's why he invited Mackay and John Wood, the caddie for Matt Kuchar, into the control room at the 2015 Houston Open so they could see how it all worked and how uncomfortable it can be to hear directions coming through an earpiece.

    Both worked as on-course reporters at Sea Island that fall.

    And when Mickelson and Mackay parted ways after 25 years, Roy scooped up the longtime caddie for TV.

    It's common for players to move into broadcasting. Far more unusual is for a caddie to be part of the mix. Mackay loves his new job. Mostly, he loves how it has helped elevate his profession after so many years of caddies being looked upon more unfavorably than they are now.

    ''I want to be a caddie that's doing TV,'' he said. ''That's what I hope to come across as. The guys think this is good for caddies. And if it's good for caddies, that makes me happy. Because I'm a caddie. I'll always be a caddie.''

    Not next week at Torrey Pines, where Mickelson won three times. Not a week later in Phoenix, where Mackay lives. Both events belong to CBS.

    And not the Masters.

    He hasn't missed Augusta since 1994, when Mickelson broke his leg skiing that winter.

    ''That killed me,'' he said, ''but not nearly as much as it's going to kill me this year. I'll wake up on Thursday of the Masters and I'll be really grumpy. I'll probably avoid television at all costs until the 10th tee Sunday. And I'll watch. But it will be, within reason, the hardest day of my life.''

    There are too many memories, dating to when he was in the gallery right of the 11th green in 1987 when Larry Mize chipped in to beat Greg Norman. He caddied for Mize for two years, and then Scott Simpson in 1992, and Mickelson the rest of the way. He was on the bag for Lefty's three green jackets.

    Mackay still doesn't talk much about what led them to part ways, except to say that a player-caddie relationship runs its course.

    ''If you lose that positive dynamic, there's no point in continuing,'' he said. ''It can be gone in six months or a year or five years. In our case, it took 25 years.''

    He says a dozen or so players called when they split up, and the phone call most intriguing was from Roy at NBC.

    ''I thought I'd caddie until I dropped,'' Mackay said.

    He never imagined getting yardages and lining up putts for anyone except the golfer whose bag he was carrying. Now it's for an audience that measures in the millions. Mackay doesn't look at it as a second career. And he won't rule out caddying again.

    ''It will always be tempting,'' he said. ''I'll always consider myself a caddie. Right now, I'm very lucky and grateful to have the job I do.''

    Except for that first week in April.

    Getty Images

    The Social: The end was nigh, then it wasn't

    By Jason CrookJanuary 16, 2018, 7:00 pm

    The star power at the Sony Open may have been overshadowed by a missile scare, but there were plenty of other social media stories that kept the golf world on its toes this week, including some insight on Tiger Woods from a round with President Obama and some failed trick shots.

    All that and more in this week's edition of The Social.

    By now you've undoubtedly heard about the false alarm in Hawaii on Saturday, where just about everyone, including most Sony Open participants, woke up to an emergency cell phone alert that there was a ballistic missile heading toward the islands.

    Hawaiian emergency management officials eventually admitted the original message was mistakenly sent out, but before they did, people (understandably) freaked out.

    As the situation unfolded, some Tour pros took to social media to express their confusion and to let the Twittersphere know how they planned on riding out this threat:

    While I would've been in that bathtub under the mattress with John Peterson, his wife, baby and in-laws (wait, how big is this tub?), here's how Justin Thomas reacted to the threat of impending doom:

    Yeah, you heard that right.

    “I was like ‘there’s nothing I can do,'” Thomas said. ”I sat on my couch and opened up the sliding door and watched TV and listened to music. I was like, if it’s my time, it’s my time.”

    Hmmm ... can we just go ahead and award him all the 2018 majors right now? Because if Thomas is staring down death in mid-January, you gotta like the kid's chances on the back nine Sunday at Augusta and beyond.

    Before the Hawaiian Missile Crisis of 2018, things were going about as well as they could at Waialae Country Club, starting with the Wednesday pro-am.

    Jordan Spieth might have been the third-biggest star in his own group, after getting paired with superstar singer/songwriter/actor Nick Jonas and model/actress Kelly Rohrbach.

    You'd be hard-pressed to find a more photogenic group out on the course, and the "Baywatch" star has a gorgeous swing as well, which makes sense, considering she was a former collegiate golfer at Georgetown.

    As impressive as that group was, they were somehow outshined by an amateur in another group, former NFL coach June Jones.

    Jones, who now coaches the CFL's Hamilton Tiger-Cats, played his round in bare feet and putted with his 5-iron, a remedy he came up with to battle the yips.

    Former NFL and current CFL coach June Jones: A master of 5-iron putting?

    A post shared by PGA TOUR (@pgatour) on

    Considering he made back-to-back birdies at one point during the day, it's safe to say he's won that battle.

    With Tiger Woods' return to the PGA Tour about a week away, that sound you hear is the hype train motoring full speed down the tracks.

    First, his ex-girlfriend Lindsey Vonn told Sports Illustrated that she hopes this comeback works out for him.

    “I loved him and we’re still friends. Sometimes, I wish he would have listened to me a little more, but he’s very stubborn and he likes to go his own way," the Olympic skiier said. "I hope this latest comeback sticks. I hope he goes back to winning tournaments.”

    Vonn also mentioned she thinks Woods is very stubborn and that he didn't listen to her enough. That really shouldn't shock anyone who watched him win the 2008 U.S. Open on one leg. Don't think there were a lot of people in his ear telling him that was a great idea at the time.

    We also have this report from Golf Channel Insider Tim Rosaforte, stating that the 14-time major champ recently played a round with former president Barack Obama at The Floridian in Palm City, Fla., where he received rave reviews from instructor Claude Harmon.

    The Farmers Insurance Open is sure to be must-see TV, but until then, I'm here for all of the rampant speculation and guesses as to how things will go. The more takes the better. Make them extra spicy, please and thanks.

    These poor New Orleans Saints fans. Guess the only thing you can do is throw your 65-inch TV off the balcony and get 'em next year.

    Here's two more just for good measure.

    Farts ... will they ever not be funny?

    Perhaps someday, but that day was not early last week, when Tommy Fleetwood let one rip on his European teammates during EurAsia Cup team photos.

    Fleetwood went 3-0-0 in the event, helping Europe to a victory over Asia, perhaps by distracting his opponents with the aid of his secret weapon.

    Also, how about the diabolical question, "Did you get that?"

    Yeah Tommy, we all got that.

    Ahhh ... golf trick shot videos. You were fun while you lasted.

    But now we’ve officially come to the point in their existence where an unsuccessful attempt is much more entertaining than a properly executed shot, and right on cue, a couple of pros delivered some epic fails.

    We start with Sony Open runner-up James Hahn’s preparation for the event, where for some reason he thought he needed to practice a running, jumping, Happy Gilmore-esque shot from the lip of a bunker. It didn’t exactly work out.

    Not to be outdone, Ladies European Tour pro Carly Booth attempted the juggling-drive-it-out-of-midair shot made famous by the Bryan Bros, and from the looks of things she might have caught it a little close to the hosel.

    PSA to trick-shot artists everywhere: For the sake of the viewing public, if you feel a miss coming on, please make sure the camera is rolling.

    Seriously, though, who cares? Definitely not these guys and gals, who took the time to comment, "who cares?" They definitely do not care.

    Getty Images

    Spieth selected by peers to run for PAC chairman

    By Will GrayJanuary 16, 2018, 6:43 pm

    Jordan Spieth may still be relatively young, but he has gained the confidence of some of the PGA Tour's most seasoned voices.

    Spieth is one of two players selected by the current player directors of the Tour's Policy Board to run for Chairman of the Player Advisory Council (PAC). Spieth will face Billy Hurley III in an election that will end Feb. 13, with the leading vote-getter replacing Davis Love III next year on the Policy Board for a three-year term through 2021.

    Last year's PAC chairman, Johnson Wagner, replaces Jason Bohn as a player director on the Policy Board beginning this year and running through 2020. Other existing player directors include Charley Hoffman (2017-19), Kevin Streelman (2017-19) and Love (2016-18).

    The 16-member PAC advises and consults with the Policy Board and Tour commissioner Jay Monahan on "issues affecting the Tour."

    In addition to Spieth and Hurley, other PAC members for 2018 include Daniel Berger, Paul Casey, Stewart Cink, Chesson Hadley, James Hahn, Zach Johnson, Matt Kuchar, Anirban Lahiri, Geoff Ogilvy, Sam Saunders, Chris Stroud, Justin Thomas, Kyle Thompson and Cameron Tringale.

    Getty Images

    Florida golfers encounter python-wrapped alligator

    By Grill Room TeamJanuary 16, 2018, 6:29 pm

    Alligator sightings are pretty common on Southern golf courses - see here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here.

    Also, here. (RIP, Timmy the Turtle.)

    But here's one that deserves distinction.

    Those images come from the Golf Club at Fiddler's Creek, down in Naples - in case you're booking a vacation to Southwest Florida or just looking for a Hot Deal this week. Hit 'em straight, folks.