Sony the Invite the Cut and Wie

By George WhiteJanuary 11, 2006, 5:00 pm
2006 Sony OpenThree-legged men, two-headed babies, the bearded lady its time for the circus to start all over again. If its January, it must be time for the Sony Open in Hawaii. And if its time for the Sony, then SHE must be there.
 
She is the 16-year-old kid who is to golf what Madonna is to singing. Michelle Wie is a polarizing figure in her sport. Some are full of admiration at her ability to play the game at such a high level while still in a youthful body. Others are full of irritation at what they consider a gimmick, a media creation that is intent upon wrecking the whole mens game.
 
Michelle Wie
Michelle Wie continues to generate a great deal of interest when she plays PGA Tour events.
 
Of course, there are some who are dubious. Michelle Wie? Whats all the fuss? Shes going to have to make a cut eventually, said Mark Calcavecchia. Shes never going to win ' period Maybe once she makes a cut, shell forget it.
 
If she makes a cut, Calc continued, you know, finishing 60th or something, next tournament she plays in, it's like, All right, she made a cut. Now what is she trying to do?
 
Is she trying to win, seriously? What is she trying to do? I think all that 'women playing the men's tournament' crap, either everybody is tired of it or...
 
A 16-year-old, though, just doesnt play golf like this, others say. And thats either a 16-year-old boy or a 16-year-old girl.
 
I can't ever think of a 16-year-old girl that could hit it like that, said Jim Furyk. I'll go beyond that - I don't know too many 16-year-old boys that can go out there and play in a tour event, have that much composure, hit the ball that well. She's definitely one in a million or one in a billion, as far as a player.
 
Sean OHair and Justin Rose toured the Sony Open course with Wie Tuesday. You have to remember, she's 16 years old, she's playing against men twice her age, said OHair. That's not easy.
 
The average age out here - if you're young, you're in your late 20s out here. Let's face it - I'm shocked that she's 16 years old. I think we have to all remember that. She may not peak in her game until she is in her mid-20s, maybe even later than that. From what she's already proved, missed the cut a couple times by a shot at 15 years old - that's pretty impressive.
 
How rare is it? Stuart Appleby said Wie is in the one millionth of one percent for girls her age. She will be part of history. She just hasn't been part of history at all yet. And that's what is scary, is someone that good hasn't played any role in golf at all. Now in the next 15, 20 years, she could be the biggest and best player ever.
 
Jim Furyk has no problem with her playing the Sony, as long as she is a professional. There was some justification inviting her the last two years when she was an amateur, he says. But now that she is a pro, he believes she has every right to be here.
 
For some reason, says Furyk, I put a difference in amateur and pro. I like to see sponsor exemptions go to golf professionals. Not that I don't think there's deserving amateurs, and not that I don't think she deserved it, because she did. I have no problem with her being in the event in the past. I like giving exemptions to people who are trying to make a living, if that makes sense.
 
That being said, I like the fact that she's a professional now getting an exemption. She's out there trying to have a career and make money. It's her profession. I like seeing golf professionals get exemptions. ... I would not be surprised at all if she made the cut next week.

And the gents are beyond the stage of being embarrassed if Michelle beats them by a stroke or two; although their friends still let them know it if they let a girl beat them.
 
You're past it till you get home, said David Toms. You go to dinner with your buddies, they're all over you about it.
 
But as far as just a pure playing standpoint, sure. If you were trying to close a business deal and a woman got it and you didn't, is that a big - would they make fun of you? I think we're all past that. I mean, I think it's great that they're even able to compete with us. She actually can.
 
Toms wonders deep down what Wie has to gain by playing in womens events. She probably should be playing regularly on the LPGA, he readily concedes. But does she have something more awaiting her on the mens tour?
 
I think when she's full-time on the LPGA Tour, winning their golf tournaments - why even? he says. I think now it (playing the PGA Tour) kind of brings attention to HER game. Would she be making the money off the golf course if all she did was play ladies events? I mean, would it be the same?
 
To me, it's more of a story - and she's more of a story - when she's trying to play our events, make cuts in our events. I think she's a bigger story trying to make the cut in the Sony Open than she is trying to win just a mediocre ladies event. I think that's probably why she's making the money off the golf course that she is, is because of that. She's able to compete with us. I think so, anyway.
 
Indeed, says OHair, this 16-year-old can make the cut at Sony this week. If she doesn't, she will eventually. It's not a matter of if, just a matter of when.
 
That's my opinion. If it's this week, who knows? I think she's playing well enough to do it. She could possibly do better than just making the cut.
 
It still boggles the imagination, Wie possibly playing the weekend at a mens event. It boggles the imagination that ANY 16-year-old could do it. But a lot of tour pros say it is quite possible. Its going to be a most interesting week.
 
Email your thoughts to George White
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. 

Getty Images

Even on 'off' day, Rahm shoots 67 at CareerBuilder

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 20, 2018, 12:36 am

Jon Rahm didn’t strike the ball as purely Friday as he did during his opening round at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

He still managed a 5-under 67 that put him just one shot off the lead heading into the weekend.

“I expected myself to go to the range (this morning) and keep flushing everything like I did yesterday,” said Rahm, who shot a career-low 62 at La Quinta on Thursday. “Everything was just a little bit off. It was just one of those days.”


Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


After going bogey-free on Thursday, Rahm mixed four birdies and two bogeys over his opening six holes. He managed to settle down around the turn, then made two birdies on his final three holes to move within one shot of Andrew Landry (65).

Rahm has missed only five greens through two rounds and sits at 15-under 129. 

The 23-year-old Spaniard won in Dubai to end the year and opened 2018 with a runner-up finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. He needs a top-6 finish or better this week to supplant Jordan Spieth as the No. 2 player in the world.