Bigger Week for Wie or LPGA

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 2, 2008, 5:00 pm Insider Brian Hewitt asked David Leadbetter Tuesday if advancing through LPGA Q-School is more important to his star pupil Michelle Wie or more important to the LPGA. So it got the editorial team debating the question. Senior writer Rex Hoggard and editorial director Jay Coffin weigh in with differing opinions.

Editorial Director,

As much as it pains me to admit it, the LPGA needs Michelle Wie more than she needs it. If the Big Wiesy fails LPGA Q-School this week shell simply go the route she has the past six years where shes chased exposure and sponsor exemptions all over the world. It essentially would be business as usual because shed easily be able to secure exemptions into 12-14 events across varying tours. It wouldnt be ideal, but still would be a great option.
In these difficult economic times, the LPGA can use every resource it can get its hands on to weather the storm. The tour recently announced its 2009 schedule and lost three events and is down about $5 million on total purse money. It has been widely reported that the LPGA only has five tournaments signed past 2009. Having Wie in the mix certainly wouldnt hurt the LPGAs chance at keeping many of those sponsor opportunities for 2010. It wouldnt hurt TV contract negotiations either.
But heres the key. Wie needs to be relevant for the LPGA to need her. In no way does the tour gain from her being 80th on the money list. The LPGA will only reap rewards if Wie contends regularly as she did in 2006 when she played in eight LPGA events and recorded six top-five finishes, including third-place ties at the Kraft Nabisco Championship and the U.S. Womens Open. Those results will help the LPGA, not the WDs, DQs or MCs that have become a habit over the past two years.
Annika Sorenstam having retired has nothing to do with this issue. In no way is Wie going to be a replacement for Sorenstam, who was one of the LPGAs greatest ambassadors. What were talking about here is having Wie become an addition to Lorena Ochoa and Paula Creamer, two other players that the LPGA desperately need on top of their games for the foreseeable future.
The one caution about saying that the LPGA needs Wie more than she needs it is that it comes across as suggesting that Wie is bigger than the tour. No one on any tour can claim that (other than perhaps Tiger Woods?).
It would do Wie a world of good to get her card and finally have a safe, secure place to play for a year. Itd be interesting to see how consistent she could become if she were to play a full schedule only against women. Sure, all that would be nice but its not a necessity. Shed still have a place to play even if she doesnt get her LPGA card. Its just that in that scenario the LPGA wouldnt have another star to promote.


Senior Writer,

Considering the state of the global economy and an ever-shrinking pool of potential title sponsors, one would half expect LPGA commissioner Carolyn Bivens to be camped atop those newly built bleachers behind the 18th green at LPGA Internationals Champions Course holding one of those oversized wow Wie foam fingers and sporting a Stanford hat.
No need for an Excel Spreadsheet or a CPA on this one. The LPGA needs Michelle Wie to cash the tour card lottery like auto executives need gas money for their private jets.
This is, however, a cause-and-effect relationship. The tours bottom line depends on Wie lifting her game above the Mendoza Line. And a tour card may just be the B-12 shot Wie has been searching for since the resume started going sideways in 2007.
In two calendars Wie has 18 LPGA, Ladies European Tour and PGA Tour starts, missed seven cuts, withdrew twice, was disqualified once and managed just a single top-10 finish at the Ladies German Open.
The statute of limitations has long ran out on Wies only national individual title, the 2003 U.S. Womens Public Links Championship, and an inexplicable march of bad luck (wrist injury), bad decisions (eight confidence-sapping starts on the PGA Tour) and bad math (her disqualification from this years State Farm Classic) has left the one-time world-beater-in-waiting simply beaten and waiting for something good to happen.
A tour card is hardly reason to celebrate, particularly given Wies status as the next-big-thing following her promising 2006 campaign. But its a start, and few in the game are in more desperate need of a fresh start.
It is a measure of how far the once heralded teen has fallen that her tie for fourth at the sectional qualifier in California this fall (70-65-74-71) drew almost as much attention, and acclaim, as that top-5 trifecta in three of the four majors she played in 06.
A tour card would give Wie more than eight starts to make a year, a key ingredient for a player in search of confidence, and the LPGA a chance to market Wie Mania 2.0. Truth is the LPGA has been riding the Wie wave for some time. On, theres a prominent Wie Watch button, just above the Celebrating Annika tab. So much for long good-byes.
Now imagine the marketing magic Daytona Beach can conjure up with the likes and likenesses of Wie, Lorena Ochoa and Paula Creamer. Its a formula that will work, but only with a happy, healthy and hungry Wie. Heading into Wednesdays opening round, one out of three isnt bad. The rest is up to that explosive swing and fragile psyche.
Wie has reportedly borrowed a page from Frank Lickliters Q-School CliffNotes and decided not to talk to the media until after the five-round fun-fest is finished. As Lickliter deadpanned after last years PGA Tour Fall Classic, Ben Hogan never talked to the press.
True, but then The Hawk never needed to go to Q-School. Nor has Wie ever needed a victory to celebrate, be it symbolic or otherwise.

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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.

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    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. 

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    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.