Wie Climbs Back in the Saddle

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 31, 2006, 4:00 pm
2006 Weetabix WomenJust a few short days removed from another tough runner-up finish at the Evian Masters, 16-year-old Michelle Wie will again dust herself off and step back up to the plate at the Weetabix Women's British Open.
 
The LPGA Tour's last major of the season, the field will gather at Royal Lytham & St. Annes Golf Club in Lancashire, England, site of Annika Sorestam's one and only British Open title back in 2003.
 
Michelle Wie
In order to collect her first win, Michelle Wie has to go through the likes of Annika Sorenstam, Karrie Webb and Lorena Ochoa.
With Wie already having performed as well as anybody on tour at the three majors in 2006 - she has lost by a total of five strokes in those three events - the Hawaiian teen is well aware that a major victory is not a question of if, but a question of when.
 
'Well, I feel like I have played very consistently lately and that is good because I feel like I am getting very, very close,' said Wie following last week's Evian Masters.
 
Certainly the biggest lightning rod in all of golf, Wie is up against what may be the greatest depth of talent that the LPGA Tour has ever seen, with the likes of Sorenstam, Karrie Webb, Lorena Ochoa, Se Ri Pak and a slew of blossoming South Korean players.
 
And although Sorenstam is not necessarily at her best this year, she is the winner of the last major these women played, a playoff victory over Pat Hurst at the U.S. Women's Open. Along with it being her second win of the year - and the third U.S. Open title of her career - the victory also boosted the Swede back into the Rolex Player of the Year race. It is an award she has won a record eight times.
 
Then there's the remarkable resurgence of Australia's Webb, holder of three tour titles this season, including the year's first major at the Kraft Nabisco Championship. By holding off Wie in France last week, Webb climbed to the top of the LPGA Tour's money list, leapfrogging both Ochoa and Sorenstam. It also moved her to the top of the Rolex Player of the Year rankings, a title she won in successive years in 1999 and 2000, and is now in good position to knock Sorenstam off that perch.
 
As good as the Wie, Webb and Sorenstam trio are, the aforementioned Ochoa is arguably having the best season of them all. In a stretch beginning with her runner-up showing at the Kraft Nabisco Championship and finishing with her win at the Sybase Classic, Ochoa enjoyed an incredible six-tournament run in which she finished no worse than second place.
 
The four runner-ups and two wins have clearly shown that the proud Mexican deserves a seat amongst the game's elite. A rough double bogey-bogey finish in the third round of the Evian Masters ended up being the difference of Ochoa not making a playoff with Webb.
 
Add to the mix the wealth of South Korean talent - including soon-to-be Hall of Famer Se Ri Pak, the sweet putting Mi Hyun Kim, and almost shoo-in rookie of the year Seon Hwa Lee - and you can easily see why it is so tough for Wie to capture her first win.
 
But by building on her performances of the recent past, Wie hopes to again be in the mix come Sunday's final round.
 
Last year's champion Jeong Jang will return to defend her title. Jang was the only player in the field last year to shoot all four rounds in the 60s en route to her four shot win over Sophie Gustafson.
 
The purse for the event is $1,800,000.
 
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    Watch: McIlroy gives Fleetwood a birthday cake

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 19, 2018, 2:58 pm

    Tommy Fleetwood turned 27 on Friday. He celebrated with some good golf – a 4-under 68 in Abu Dhabi, leaving him only two shots back in his title defense – and a birthday cake, courtesy of Rory Mcllroy.

    While giving a post-round interview, Fleetwood was surprised to see McIlroy approaching with a cake in hand.

    “I actually baked this before we teed off,” McIlroy joked.

    Fleetwood blew out the three candles – “three wishes!” – and offered McIlroy a slice.  

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    DJ shoots 64 to surge up leaderboard in Abu Dhabi

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 1:48 pm

    Dustin Johnson stood out among a star-studded three-ball that combined to shoot 18 under par with just one bogey Friday at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

    Shaking off a sloppy first round at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, Johnson matched the low round of the day with a 64 that put him within four shots of Thomas Pieters’ lead.

    “I did everything really well,” Johnson said. “It was a pretty easy 64.”

    Johnson made four bogeys during an even-par 72 on Thursday and needed a solid round Friday to make the cut. Before long, he was closer to the lead than the cut line, making birdie on three of the last four holes and setting the pace in a group that also included good rounds from Rory McIlroy (66) and Tommy Fleetwood (68).

    “Everyone was hitting good shots,” McIlroy said. “That’s all we were seeing, and it’s nice when you play in a group like that. You feed off one another.” 


    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


    Coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, Johnson is searching for his first regular European Tour title. He tied for second at this event a year ago.

    Johnson’s second-round 64 equaled the low round of the day (Jorge Campillo and Branden Grace). 

    “It was just really solid all day long,” Johnson said. “Hit a lot of great shots, had a lot of looks at birdies, which is what I need to do over the next two days if I want to have a chance to win on Sunday.” 

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    Closing eagle moves Rory within 3 in Abu Dhabi

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 12:57 pm

    What rust? Rory McIlroy appears to be in midseason form.

    Playing competitively for the first time since Oct. 8, McIlroy completed 36 holes without a bogey Friday, closing with an eagle to shoot 6-under 66 to sit just three shots back at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

    “I’m right in the mix after two days and I’m really happy in that position,” he told reporters afterward.

    McIlroy took a 3 ½-month break to heal his body, clear his mind and work on his game after his first winless year since 2008, his first full season as a pro.

    He's back on track at a familiar playground, Abu Dhabi Golf Club, where he’s racked up eight top-11s (including six top-3s) in his past nine starts there.


    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


    McIlroy opened with a 69 Thursday, then gave himself even more chances on Day 2, cruising along at 4 under for the day when he reached the par-5 closing hole. After launching a 249-yard long iron to 25 feet, he poured in the eagle putt to pull within three shots of Thomas Pieters (65). 

    Despite the layoff, McIlroy edged world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, by a shot over the first two rounds. 

    “DJ is definitely the No. 1 player in the world right now, and one of, if not the best, driver of the golf ball," McIlroy said. "To be up there with him over these first two days, it proves to me that I’m doing the right things and gives me a lot of confidence going forward.”

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    Duke to fill in for injured Pavin at CareerBuilder

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 12:25 pm

    Ken Duke will fill in for Corey Pavin for the next two rounds of the CareerBuilder Challenge – with nothing at stake but his amateur partner’s position on the leaderboard.

    Pavin was 4 over par when he withdrew after 17 holes Thursday because of a neck injury. Tournament officials contacted Duke, the first alternate, and asked if he would take Pavin’s spot and partner with Luis Lopez for the next two rounds, even though he would not receive any official money.

    Duke accepted and explained his decision on Twitter:

    Playing on past champion’s status, the 48-year-old Duke has made only four starts this season, with a best finish of a tie for 61st at the RSM Classic.

    Pavin received a sponsor exemption into the event, his first PGA Tour start since the 2015 Colonial.