The Only Criterion - They Will Watch

By George WhiteJuly 6, 2005, 4:00 pm
Todays sermon revolves around a 15-year-old girl, a golf tournament, and peoples hot-button reaction to it. If ever there were a polarizing event in golf, Michelle Wie and the John Deere Classic has to be it.
Let me see if I can sum up the negative e-mails concerning this kid and her attempts to play in a mens professional golf tournament (her third PGA Tour event, by the way) first of all, shes a female ' thats obvious; shes taking up a spot that should go to a tour player ' shes not, she got in on a sponsors exemption which most likely would have gone otherwise to a local PGA pro; or, why in Hades name does a girl want to play with the men, anyway?
Michelle Wie
Michelle Wie looked right at home talking to the media at the John Deere Classic.
But in the final analysis, I can tell you that all the wailing goes for naught because of one all-important factor: strip the PGA Tour down to its most basic element, and its only reason for being is because people want to watch it. People PLAY golf because they enjoy the experience of competing, be it against the golf course or other people. But they WATCH golf because they want to be entertained.
If they didnt care about watching golf, there would be no reason to have a tour. Tiger Woods and Vijay Singh and Annika Sorenstam would be unknowns then, much like, say, a world champion lawn bowler.
Ergo, professional golf. Ergo, the PGA Tour. And ergo (which is a fancy way of saying therefore), the John Deere Classic. You can yelp all you want to about the tour being meant for men only, or for professionals only, but in the end it exists for only one reason ' because people enjoy watching it.
So, it boils down to one simple question: do people enjoy watching Michelle Wie? The organizers of the John Deere Classic emphatically proclaim that they do.
Jim Furyk reacted quickly to the argument that shes taking somebodys spot at the Sony Open this year. I have a problem with that argument in that it's a sponsor's spot. It's not really their spot, he said.
When I was a mini-tour player, I liked sponsor's exemptions to go to golf professionals, because those guys were trying to make a living. But its an exception where a guy has won the U.S. Amateur or an exception like Michelle Wie. I don't care who you put in this field as a sponsor's exemption, no one will gain one-third the attention that she's going to gain with her sponsor's exemption. ... Will it bother some players if she got an exemption somewhere else? I'm sure it would. I'm not one of those people.
Does Wie belong? Zack Johnson says there is no question ' she belongs strictly on the basis of her ability.
Oh, yeah, he said. I think she can maybe be in contention. I don't think there's any doubt. She's good. I mean, she's a phenom. I've said it a bunch. When you have a phenom like that, regardless - male or female - you've got to showcase it in some sort of fashion. However that arena is set up, it doesn't matter.
Ernie Els is a believer. He played with Wie at the Sony in her native Hawaii. And he sees a young woman who is very driven.
I think her goal is to be out here. She wants to be out here as soon as she can.
I don't think anybody compares to her at 15, says Els. So for her to go back to her age group and compete against those people, it just doesn't make sense for her. She wants to push herself to a different level quicker.
Wie has read the negative comments, heard all the talk. She knows that some people are not going to approve of her actions, regardless of how she succeeds.
I know they're always going to be there, Michelle said, and there are some people that are always against me. But, you know, I just have to realize that I'm having a lot of fun, and this is what I want to do and I'm not going to stop just for them.
Johnson played with Wie in a practice round Tuesday, and he came away a believer, too. This, he said, is the real deal. Regardless of how she does this week, he is proud to be in the same field with her.
I mentioned that to some of the other guys today, said Johnson. She walks high, her mannerisms are very mature. She's very, very classy, very professional. She's funny. She's generous, she's nice. She was just the epitome of a very happy and appreciative sponsor exemption.
And like I said, she's only 15. It's scary. She definitely acts beyond her years.
Win, lose or draw, shes going to play. Some people ' and that includes some pros ' are extremely unhappy about it. But I guarantee you ' people will be watching.
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Rahm manages frustration, two back at CareerBuilder

By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 1:21 am

Jon Rahm managed the winds and his frustrations Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge to give himself a chance to win his fourth worldwide title in the last year.

Rahm’s 2-under-par 70 on the PGA West Stadium Course left him two shots off the lead going into the final round.

“I wasn’t really dealing with the wind that much,” Rahm said of his frustrations. “I was dealing with not being as fluid as I was the last two days.”

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The world’s No. 3 ranked player opened with a 62 at La Quinta Country Club on Thursday and followed it up with a 67 on Friday at PGA West. He made six birdies and four bogeys on the Stadium Course on Saturday.

“The first day, everything was outstanding,” Rahm said. “Yesterday, my driver was a little shaky but my irons shots were perfect. Today, my driver was shaky and my irons shots were shaky. On a course like this, it’s punishing, but luckily on the holes where I found the fairway I was able to make birdies.”

Rahm is projected to move to No. 2 in the world rankings with a finish of sixth or better on Sunday.

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Cook leads by one entering final round at CareerBuilder

By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 12:51 am

LA QUINTA, Calif. – Austin Cook hit a hybrid into the fairway bunker on the par-4 18th on a breezy Saturday afternoon at La Quinta Country Club, then chunked a wedge and raced a chip 20 feet past the hole.

Kip Henley, the longtime PGA Tour caddie who guided Cook to a breakthrough victory at Sea Island in November, stepped in to give the 26-year-old former Arkansas star a quick pep talk.

''Kip said, 'Let's finish this like we did on the first day at the Nicklaus Course.' We made a big par putt on 18 there and he said, 'Let's just do the same thing. Let's get this line right and if you get the line right it's going in.'''

It did, giving Cook an 8-under 64 and a one-stroke lead in the CareerBuilder Challenge going into the final round on the Stadium Course at PGA West. Fellow former Razorback Andrew Landry and Martin Piller were tied for second, and Jon Rahm and Scott Piercy were a another stroke back after a tricky day in wind that didn't get close to the predicted gusts of 40 mph.

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''I know that I wouldn't have wanted to play the Stadium today,'' Cook said. ''I think we got a great draw with the courses that we got to play on the days that we got to play them.''

Cook played the final six holes on the front nine in 6 under with an eagle and four birdies.

''Starting on my fourth hole, I was able to make a birdie and kind of get the ball rolling and it never really stopped rolling,'' Cook said. ''Kip and I were doing really good at seeing the line on the greens.''

After a bogey on 10, he birdied 11, 12 and 15 and parred the final three to get to 19-under 197.

''I think that tonight the nerves, the butterflies, all that will kind of be a little less,'' Cook said. ''I've been in the situation before and I was able to finish the job on Sunday. I think it would be a little different if I didn't play like I did on Sunday at Sea Island.''

He's making his first start in the event.

''I came in from Hawaii on Monday, so I only had two days to prepare for three courses,'' Cook said.

Landry, the second-round leader, had a 70 at the Stadium. Piller, the husband of LPGA tour player Gerina Piller, shot a 67 at La Quinta. Winless on the PGA Tour, they will join Cook in the final threesome.

''Piller's a good guy and we have played a lot together and same with Cookie,'' said Landry, the only player without a bogey after 54 holes. ''Hope the Hogs are going to come out on top.''

Rahm had a 70 at the Stadium to reach 17 under. The third-ranked Rahm beat up the par 5s again, but had four bogeys – three on par 3s. He has played the 12 par 5s in 13 under with an eagle and 11 birdies.

''A little bit of a survival day,'' Rahm said.

The wind was more of a factor on the more exposed and tighter Stadium Course.

''The course is firming up,'' Rahm said. ''I know if we have similar wind to today, if we shoot something under par, you'll be way up there contesting it over the last few holes.''

Piercy had a 66 at the Stadium.

''I controlled my ball really well today,'' he said.

Adam Hadwin had a 67 at La Quinta a year after shooting a third-round 59 on the course. The Canadian was 16 under along with Grayson Murray and Brandon Harkins. Murray had a 67 on the Nicklaus Course, and Harkins shot 68 at the Stadium.

Phil Mickelson missed the cut in his first tournament of the year for the second time in his career, shooting a 74 on the Stadium to finish at 4 under – four strokes from a Sunday tee time. The 47-year-old Hall of Famer was playing for the first time since late October. He also missed the cut in the Phoenix Open in his 2009 opener.

Charlie Reiter, the Palm Desert High School senior playing on the first sponsor exemption the event has given to an amateur, also missed the cut. He had three early straight double bogeys in a 77 on the Stadium that left him 1 over.

John Daly had an 80 at La Quinta. He opened with a triple bogey and had six bogeys – four in a row to start his second nine - and only one birdie. The 51-year-old Daly opened with a 69 on the Nicklaus layout and had a 71 on Friday at the Stadium.

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Phil misses CareerBuilder cut for first time in 24 years

By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 12:48 am

Phil Mickelson missed the cut Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge. It’s a rare occurrence in his Hall of Fame career.

He has played the event 15 times, going back to when it was known as the Bob Hope Classic. He has won it twice.

How rare is his missing the cut there?

The last time he did so, there was no such thing as a DVD, Wi-Fi, iPods, Xbox, DVR capability or YouTube.

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The PGA Tour’s Jon Rahm didn’t exist, either.

The last time Mickelson missed a cut in this event was 1994, nine months before Rahm was born.

Mickelson struggled to a 2-over-par 74 in the heavy winds Saturday on the PGA West Stadium Course, missing the 54-hole cut by four shots. He hit just four of 14 fairways, just nine of 18 greens. He took a double bogey at the 15th after requiring two shots to escape the steep-walled bunker on the left side of the green.

Mickelson won’t have to wait long to try to get back in the hunt. He’s scheduled to play the Farmers Insurance Open next week at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, Calif.

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Defending champ Gana co-leads Latin America Amateur

By Randall MellJanuary 20, 2018, 11:20 pm

Toto Gana moved into early position to try to win a return trip to the Masters Saturday by grabbing a share of the first-round lead at the Latin America Amateur Championship.

The defending champ posted a 3-under-par 68 at Prince of Wales Country Club in his native Chile, equaling the rounds of Argentina’s Mark Montenegro and Colombia’s Pablo Torres.

They are one shot ahead of Mexico’s Alvaro Ortiz and Mario Carmona, Argentina’s Horacio Carbonetti and Jaime Lopez Rivarola and the Dominican Republic’s Rhadames Pena.

It’s a bunched leaderboard, with 19 players within three shots of each at the top of the board in the 72-hole event.

“I think I have my game under control,” said Gana, 20, a freshman at Lynn University. “I hit the ball very well, and I also putted very well. So, I am confident about tomorrow.”

The LAAC’s champion will get more than a Masters invitation. He also will be exempt into the The Amateur, the U.S. Amateur and any other USGA event he is eligible to play this year. The champion and players who finish runner-up are also exempt into the final stages of qualifying for The Open and the U.S. Open.

The LAAC was founded by the Masters, the R&A and the USGA, with the purpose of further developing amateur golf in South America, Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean.