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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    Golf's Olympic format, qualifying process remain the same

    By Rex HoggardMarch 19, 2018, 6:25 pm

    AUSTIN, Texas – Potential Olympic golfers for the 2020 Games in Tokyo were informed on Monday that the qualification process for both the men’s and women’s competitions will remain unchanged.

    According to a memo sent to PGA Tour players, the qualification process begins on July 1, 2018, and will end on June 22, 2020, for the men, with the top 59 players from the Olympic Golf Rankings, which is drawn from the Official World Golf Ranking, earning a spot in Tokyo (the host country is assured a spot in the 60-player field). The women’s qualification process begins on July 8, 2018, and ends on June 29, 2020.

    The format, 72-holes of individual stroke play, for the ’20 Games will also remain unchanged.

    The ’20 Olympics will be held July 24 through Aug. 9, and the men’s competition will be played the week before the women’s event at Kasumigaseki Country Club.

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    Webb granted U.S. Women's Open special exemption

    By Will GrayMarch 19, 2018, 6:22 pm

    Karrie Webb's streak of consecutive appearances at the U.S. Women's Open will continue this summer.

    The USGA announced Monday that the 43-year-old Aussie has been granted a special exemption into this year's event, held May 31-June 3 at Shoal Creek in Alabama. Webb, a winner in both 2000 and 2001, has qualified for the event on merit every year since 2011 when her 10-year exemption for her second victory ended.

    "As a past champion, I'm very grateful and excited to accept the USGA's special exemption into this year's U.S. Women's Open," Webb said in a release. "I have always loved competing in the U.S. Women's Open and being tested on some of the best courses in the country."

    Webb has played in the tournament every year since 1996, the longest such active streak, meaning that this summer will mark her 23rd consecutive appearance. She has made the U.S. Women's Open cut each of the last 10 years, never finishing outside the top 50 in that span.

    Webb's exemption is the first handed out by the USGA since 2016, when Se Ri Pak received an invite to play at CordeValle. Prior to that the two most recent special exemptions went to Juli Inkster (2013) and Laura Davies (2009). The highest finish by a woman playing on a special exemption came in 1994, when Amy Alcott finished sixth.

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    Notah: Driver is Tiger's No. 1 pre-Masters concern

    By Golf Channel DigitalMarch 19, 2018, 5:49 pm

    Tiger Woods mounted a Sunday charge at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, sending shockwaves through Bay Hill when it looked as though he might finally claim PGA Tour victory No. 80.

    But the charge came to an end at the par-5 16th, where Woods had missed wide-right three days in a row before going OB-left on Sunday en route to bogey.

    Woods’ API performance featured just a handful of drivers each day, as firm and fast conditions allowed him to make frequent use of a 2-iron off the tee.

    That strategy led to a second top-5 finish in as many weeks, but if Woods wants to win again, if he wants claim another major, he is going to sort out his issues with the big stick.

    A guest Monday morning on the Dan Patrick Show, Golf Channel’s Notah Begay believes the driver will be a focus for Woods in his pre-Masters preparation.

    “Project No. 1 over the next two weeks is going to be the driver. … Any time he has to turn a shot right to left with trouble on the left, he struggles a little bit,” Begay said.

    “Off the sixth tee, off the ninth tee, there was some errant shots. And then we saw the really horrible tee shot yesterday at 16. He talked about in the post-round comments. He just didn’t commit to a shot, and the worst thing that a professional athlete can do to themselves to compromise performance is not commit.

    “And so he made a terrible swing, and that’s the miss that is really difficult for him to recover from, because the majority of his misses are out to the right. So, when you eliminate one half of the golf course, you can really make your way around … a lot easier. When you have a two-way miss going, which sometimes creeps into his driver, it really makes it difficult to take out some of the trouble that you’re looking at when you’re standing on the tee box.

    “So he has to focus in on trying to find some way to navigate Augusta National with the driver, because it’s a course that’s going to force you to hit driver.”

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    McIlroy trails only Woods in Masters betting odds

    By Will GrayMarch 19, 2018, 5:47 pm

    After rallying for victory at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, Rory McIlroy is once again among the betting favorites for the upcoming Masters.

    McIlroy was available at 16/1 at the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook last week, listed behind six other players. But after his three-shot win at Bay Hill, his odds were trimmed to 10/1, leaving him behind only betting favorite Tiger Woods.

    Next month will mark McIlroy's fourth opportunity to close out the final leg of the career Grand Slam by slipping into a green jacket. Here's a look at the current betting odds, with the first round only 17 days away:

    8/1: Tiger Woods

    10/1: Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas

    14/1: Jordan Spieth, Justin Rose

    16/1: Jason Day, Jon Rahm

    18/1: Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson

    25/1: Paul Casey, Bubba Watson

    30/1: Sergio Garcia, Tommy Fleetwood, Hideki Matsuyama

    40/1: Henrik Stenson, Marc Leishman

    50/1: Alex Noren

    60/1: Matt Kuchar, Louis Oosthuizen, Adam Scott, Tyrrell Hatton, Thomas Pieters

    80/1: Branden Grace, Brian Harman, Tony Finau, Charley Hoffman, Brooks Koepka, Patrick Cantlay

    100/1: Zach Johnson, Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Matthew Fitzpatrick, Webb Simpson, Bryson DeChambeau, Xander Schauffele, Charl Schwartzel, Daniel Berger, Kevin Kisner