Wie Begins Third Stint on PGA Tour Stage

By Golf Channel NewsroomJuly 5, 2005, 4:00 pm
SILVIS, Ill. -- With her sparkly chandelier earrings and the wells and you knows sprinkled liberally throughout her conversations, Michelle Wie could be any other 15-year-old girl.
Get her on the golf course, though, and Wie becomes something special. No matter her age, or what tour shes playing.
She walks high. Her mannerisms are very mature. Shes very, very classy. Very professional. Shes funny. Shes generous. Shes nice, said Zach Johnson, who played a practice round with Wie on Tuesday.
Michelle Wie
Michelle Wie hopes to improve on her Sony Open performance when she missed the cut by seven strokes.
When youre standing behind her behind the ropes and youre seeing her hit a golf shot, youre like, Wow, she hit it just as far as so-and-so or just as straight as so-and-so, Johnson said, awe in his voice. And shes 15. Its unbelievable.
Welcome to the wonderful world of Wie.
Shes already proven this summer that she can hang with the big
girls, finishing second at the LPGA Championship and sharing the third-round lead at the U.S. Open. Now she has her sights set on the men, making her third venture onto the PGA Tour at this weeks John Deere Classic.
Ever since I was very young, I wanted to play with the guys, she said. I had a choice of playing softball or baseball. I played baseball. I think thats just my characteristic.
Wie has been occasionally playing on the LPGA Tour since she was 12, so her appearances at those tournaments no longer causes a ruckus. In addition to being runner-up to Annika Sorenstam at the LPGA Championship, she was second at the SBS Open. Shes yet to win an LPGA event, but still she would already have earned about $300,000 and been top 25 on the money list this year if she wasnt an amateur.
But the PGA Tour is a different story. Sorenstam was the first woman in almost 60 years to play on the PGA Tour when she teed it up at The Colonial in 2003, and only Suzy Whaley and Wie have joined her since. No woman has made a 36-hole cut in a PGA Tour event since Babe Zaharias did it at the 1945 Los Angeles Open, though Wie missed by just one stroke at the 2004 Sony Open. She missed the cut by seven strokes at this years Sony Open.
Wie is playing in the mens U.S. Amateur Public Links next week at Shaker Run in Lebanon, Ohio.
I feel like I have nothing to lose, she said. Basically, Im the underdog here, so Im just going to have a lot of fun.
Wie is well aware there are people who think she has no business here, that she should stick to the LPGA Tour. Or, better yet, junior events. But she and her parents mapped out this plan long ago, and shes sticking to it.
She still wants to go to Stanford, but her long-term goal is to play on the mens tour. Nothing against the women, she wants to beat them, too. But playing the men is a different challenge.
There are some people that are always against me, she said. But, you know, I just have to realize that Im having a lot of fun, and this is what I want to do. And Im not going to stop just for them.
Some of the objections stem from her use of sponsor exemptions. If Wie really wants to play, critics say, she should try qualifying like Whaley did.
But Wie sees it a different way.
If someone says, Here you go, heres $100, I mean, would you rather work for it or would you just get it? she asked. I mean, that makes sense to me. I mean, I dont know about anyone else, but I like the easy way in.
And Wie is hardly the first person to get sponsors exemptions.
If the sponsors want to get a crowd, thats what they do,
Tiger Woods said last week. I got an exemption when I was 16, too.
For Deere Classic organizers, giving Wie an exemption wasnt even a question.
Tournament director Clair Peterson extended an invitation for last years tournament after she barely missed the cut at the 2004 Sony, but the timing didnt work. When Wies parents called Peterson this spring, he was happy to make the offer again.
Because the Deere Classic falls on the week before the British Open, most of the big names skip it. With the addition of Wie, though, it becomes a must-watch event. Ticket sales are brisk, and 93 media organizations requested credentials, an increase of about 30 percent from last year.
Shes accomplished a tremendous amount in golf already, Peterson said. Shes a huge talent and people are interested in seeing that. That really was our first consideration.
Besides, Johnson said, talent is talent.
Throw sex aside, you have a phenomenal talent, Johnson said.
They dont come around very often. Theres only so many Michelle Wies, Tiger Woodses, Michael Jordans, whoever it is. ... I just think its a win-win situation on both the Wie side and the tournament side, through and through.
Related Links:
  • Tee Times
  • Full Coverage - John Deere Classic
  • Getty Images

    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.  

    Getty Images

    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.” 

    Getty Images

    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.”

    Getty Images

    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.