With Attention on Wie Others Focus on Win

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 8, 2007, 5:00 pm
2006 Sony OpenShes back. Back to try yet again to make the cut in a PGA TOUR event.

Six times Michelle Wie has played a TOUR event. Six times she has failed to make it past the first two rounds. On one occasion she only made it through 18 holes as she was forced to withdraw mid-round at last years John Deere Classic due to exhaustion.

Michelle Wie
Michelle Wie will have another large following this week at home.
Wies foray into mens events on the professional level began in 2004 at the Sony Open in Hawaii. The then 14-year-old Wie wowed the golfing public by shooting 72-68, missing the cut by just one swing.

Three years later, the promise and potential remain. But Wie hasnt since come as close to qualifying for weekend play on TOUR.

Wie made three TOUR starts a year ago. She shot another 68 in the second round at the Sony ' but that came after an opening 79. She then had to be taken by ambulance to the hospital midway through the second round of the John Deere, where she was well below the cut line at the time of her withdrawal. And things didnt get much better at the 84 Lumber. She managed to finish 36 holes this time, but did so in 158 strokes.

Once again, the high school senior will garner a great deal of attention this week. But while she has shown flashes of brilliance at Waialae Country Club, a course she has played countless times, she most likely wont factor into the final outcome ' even if she does make the cut.

This is the first full-field event on the 2007 TOUR season, the first chance for most of the players to earn FedExCup points.
Some, however, already have a jump on everyone else. Thirty-two of the 34 players in last weeks Mercedes-Benz Championship field are hopping over to Honolulu from Maui.

On the other hand, there were 39 players on the original commitment list who were either Nationwide Tour or Q-school graduates.

With the new FedExCup system in place, both sets arent sure how many times they will get to compete this year ' particularly on the Q-school side early on.

While 20 of the 22 Nationwide grads were on the original field list; only 19 of the 40 players who made it through the Qualifying Tournament were on there. Two of those players opted not to compete this week, but the other 19 didnt make the original 144-person field.

With limited opportunities, it will be important for these players to play well when given the chance.

Unfortunately, given the recent history of the Sony, it will be very difficult for any of them to actually win this week.

Recent winners at Waialae have been established champions, like Ernie Els, Vijay Singh and David Toms.

Toms is back to defend his title. But is he among our favorites? Heres our list ' with a new twist. Instead of nominating our overall tournament favorites ' which can consist of many of the same players each week ' we will present our favorites from four different categories: Superstar (top-10 ranked player from the Official World Golf Ranking); Second Tier (guys outside the top 10, but no lower than 100); First-Timer (a player who has never won before on TOUR); Veteran (a guy who has won before, but not in some time).

Vijay Singh
Vijay Singh looks to win in back-to-back weeks for the fourth time on the PGA TOUR
There are four players ranked inside the top 10 in this weeks field: Jim Furyk, Vijay Singh, Luke Donald and Geoff Ogilvy. Ogilvy is the only player who has never competed in this event. The other three, meanwhile, have had modest-to-great success. Donald has three top-20s in four starts. Furyk has four top-10s, including a win in 1996. But Singh is our choice. He has finished inside the top 10 each of the last three years, winning in 2005. Hes also riding a Pacific Ocean wave a momentum from last weeks victory at the Mercedes ' and hes not afraid to make it back-to-back victories. Singh has won in successive weeks three times before in his career. Two other times he's won in two straight starts, with one bye week between the two.

Second Tier
Plenty of choices in this category. J.B. Holmes comes to mind. He tied for 10th in his Sony debut a year ago, and tied for fourth last week. Theres also Stuart Appleby. His streak is over at The Plantation Course, but he could start another winning run at Waialae. He has four top-10s, finishing tied for seventh last year and runner-up in 2000. But were going with a guy who has never before played the course: Trevor Immelman. Immelman made his first start at the Mercedes-Benz last week and fared just fine there, finishing solo third. We like his chances of doing even better this time around.

Just like at most every tournament ' with the exception of the Mercedes-Benz ' the Sony field is littered with players who have never won on TOUR. One is Brett Quigley. He has been playing on TOUR since 1997, but has only a couple of runner-up finishes to his credit however he is coming off his best-ever campaign, in which he finished 20th on the money list. Hes been hit or miss at this event. He has three missed cuts in six starts, but also has a pair of top-5s when hes made it to the weekend. With plenty to choose from, well select Bubba Watson. Watson made an immediate impact on TOUR last year when the rookie finished fourth at this event. Jerry Kelly, in 2002, is the only player in over a decade to make this event his first TOUR victory.

And that leads us nicely to our final category, the one in which Kelly is our man. After capturing the Sony, Kelly went on to win the Western Open that same season ' and he hasnt since won. Its been four-and-a-half years since Kelly tasted victory, and this competitor is starving for another trophy. Over the last five years, Kelly has a win and two other top-5 finishes here. He also tied for 13th in 2006.

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    Garcia 2 back in weather-delayed Singapore Open

    By Associated PressJanuary 20, 2018, 3:06 pm

    SINGAPORE - Danthai Boonma and Chapchai Nirat built a two-stroke lead over a chasing pack that includes Sergio Garcia and Ryo Ishikawa midway through the third round of the weather-interrupted Singapore Open on Saturday.

    The Thai golfers were locked together at 9 under when play was suspended at the Sentosa Golf Club for the third day in a row because of lightning strikes in the area.

    Masters champion Garcia and former teen prodigy Ishikawa were among seven players leading the chase at 7 under on a heavily congested leaderboard.

    Garcia, one of 78 players who returned to the course just after dawn to complete their second rounds, was on the 10th hole of his third round when the warning siren was sounded to abruptly end play for the day.

    ''Let's see if we can finish the round, that will be nice,'' he said. ''But I think if I can play 4-under I should have a chance.''

    The Spanish golfer credits the Singapore Open as having played a part in toughening him up for his first major championship title at Augusta National because of the stifling humidity of southeast Asia and the testing stop-start nature of the tournament.

    Full-field scores from the Singapore Open

    Although he finished tied for 11th in Singapore in 2017, Garcia won the Dubai Desert Classic the subsequent week and was in peak form when he won the Masters two months later. He is feeling confident of his chances of success this weekend.

    ''I felt like I hit the ball OK,'' Garcia said. ''My putting and all went great but my speed hasn't been great on this green so let's see if I can be a little more aggressive on the rounds this weekend.''

    Ishikawa moved into a share of the lead at the halfway stage after firing a second round of 5-under 66 that featured eight birdies. He birdied the first two holes of his third round to grab the outright lead but slipped back with a double-bogey at the tricky third hole for the third day in a row. He dropped another shot at the par-5 sixth when he drove into a fairway bunker.

    ''It was a short night but I had a good sleep and just putted well,'' Ishikawa said. The ''greens are a little quicker than yesterday but I still figured (out) that speed.

    Ishikawa was thrust into the spotlight more than a decade ago. In 2007, he became the youngest player to win on any of the major tours in the world. He was a 15-year-old amateur when he won the Munsingwear Open KSB Cup.

    He turned pro at 16, first played in the Masters when he was 17 and the Presidents Cup when he was 18. He shot 58 in the final round to win The Crowns in Japan when he was 19.

    Now 26, Ishikawa has struggled with injuries and form in recent years. He lost his PGA Tour card and hasn't played in any of the majors since 2015. He has won 15 times as a professional, but has never won outside his homeland of Japan.

    Chapchai was able to sleep in and put his feet up on Saturday morning after he completed his second round on Friday.

    He bogeyed the third but reeled off three birdies in his next four holes to reach 9-under with the back nine still to play.

    Danthai was tied for 12th at the halfway stage but charged into a share of the lead with seven birdies in the first 15 holes of his penultimate round.

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    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, five 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.”

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    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?''

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    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.