Wie Stays Cool Under Spotlight

By Golf Channel NewsroomJuly 3, 2003, 4:00 pm
NORTH PLAINS, Ore. (AP) -- After some practice putting on the 18th green at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club, Michelle Wie was whisked away for yet another television interview.
Then there were countless autographs to sign before she could get back to the task at hand. Practice.
Such is the life of golf's newest star as she prepares for the U.S. Women's Open that starts Thursday.
'She enjoys the attention,' said her father and caddie, B.J. Wie. 'It makes her work harder.'
Sizable galleries followed the 13-year-old phenom at Wednesday's final practice round on the Witch Hollow course. She drew polite applause for a well-placed uphill shot in a deep valley on 18.
Standing almost 6-feet tall, the lanky native of Honolulu captured the public's attention with Tiger Woods-like 300-yard drives and has been hailed as the future of women's golf.
She burst on the scene earlier this year when she placed ninth in the Nabisco Classic, her first-ever LPGA major. Then she proved she wasn't only about power when became the youngest player to win an adult USGA championship in the U.S. Women's Amateur Public Links title two weeks ago.
And there's a lot more attention to come. Wie, who has played in three LPGA events this year as an amateur, is scheduled to play against men in the Canadian Tour's Bay Mills Open Players' Championship in August. Then she'll play on the men's Nationwide Tour with a sponsor's exemption in the Albertson's Open Sept. 18-21.
Her goal? The Masters, of course.
When confronted with naysayers who say she's doing too much too soon, the confident teenager was defiant.
'I just think to myself, `How do they know?'' she said. 'I'm still young. I'm fresh. I can handle it.'
While Wie probably has the highest profile of the 14 teenagers playing in the Open, she's not even the youngest. That honor goes to Sydney Burlison of California, who is nine days Wie's junior.
'I could be a mother to all of them,' marveled 43-year-old Juli Inkster, who beat Annika Sorenstam by two strokes to win last year's Open at Prairie Dunes County Club in Hutchinson, Kan.
Inkster said Wie's presence has given her more fire to play well.
'She's impressive, the way she hits the ball,' Inkster said. 'But I still feel that I can come out and compete and win. But it does get me going.'
But two-time Open winner Karrie Webb expressed concern that perhaps Wie was coming along too fast.
'I just hope that she's doing what she's doing right now because she wants to do it, I guess. I just hope she doesn't get to a time in her life, like someone like (tennis star) Jennifer Capriati, when she doesn't want to do it anymore, because that would be a shame,' Webb said.
B.J. Wie said his daughter hates the word 'burnout.'
'I guess I don't really fear it,' she said. 'I guess if I do get burned out, I'll go to college, and at least I have a chance to do something else.'
Giggling when microphone troubles made it difficult to hear questions, Wie was graceful Wednesday under the scrutiny of the media. At one point she was asked if she had ever seen the U.S. Women's Open, and she simply smiled rather than answer.
Wie was accompanied during her practice round Wednesday by her parents and her coach, in a group with LPGA Tour pros Hilary Lunke and Stephanie Louden.
The group parted ways after 11 holes. 'Thank you so much,' Louden said, giving Wie a hug. 'Good luck to you.'
Wie played on, her father gently offering suggestions in Korean.
'She's doing great,' B.J. Wie said. 'She has to sign a lot of autographs but that's OK. We are just trying to learn the course.'
After the Open, Wie plans to take some time off in California. Then it's on to the U.S. Girls Junior in Fairfield, Conn., on July 21, and the U.S. Women's Amateur at Philadelphia Country Club in August.
Wie travels to Ohio next for the Jamie Farr Kroger Classic on the LPGA Tour, followed by a five-hour drive to Michigan for the Canadian Tour event against the men.
Wie would like to play in the men's U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship as early as next year, with an eye toward her goal of playing in the Masters.
'I really want to play in the Masters and on the PGA Tour,' she said, 'because I think that will take me to the highest level.'
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage of the U.S. Women's Open
  • Full-field scores from the U.S. Women's Open
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    Cut Line: Color Rory unafraid of the Ryder Cup

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 19, 2018, 7:09 pm

    In this week’s edition, Rory McIlroy gets things rolling with some early Ryder Cup banter, Dustin Johnson changes his tune on a possible golf ball roll-back, and the PGA Tour rolls ahead with integrity training.

    Made Cut

    Paris or bust. Rory McIlroy, who made his 2018 debut this week on the European Tour, can be one of the game’s most affable athletes. He can also be pointed, particularly when discussing the Ryder Cup.

    Asked this week in Abu Dhabi about the U.S. team, which won the last Ryder Cup and appears to be rejuvenated by a collection of new players, McIlroy didn’t disappoint.

    “If you look at Hazeltine and how they set the course up – big, wide fairways, no rough, pins in the middle of greens – it wasn’t set up for the way the Europeans like to play,” McIlroy said. “I think Paris will be a completely different kettle of fish, so different.”

    McIlroy has come by his confidence honestly, having won three of the four Ryder Cups he’s played, so it’s understandable if he doesn't feel like an underdog heaidng to Paris.

    “The Americans have obviously been buoyant about their chances, but it’s never as easy as that,” he said. “The Ryder Cup is always close. It always comes down to a few key moments, and it will be no different in Paris. I think we’ll have a great team and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

    September can’t get here quick enough.

    Mr. Spieth goes to Ponte Vedra Beach. The Tour announced this year’s player advisory council, the 16-member group that works with the circuit’s policy board to govern.

    There were no real surprises to the PAC, but news that Jordan Spieth had been selected to run for council chair is interesting. Spieth, who is running against Billy Hurley III and would ascend to the policy board next year if he wins the election, served on the PAC last year and would make a fine addition to the policy board, but it is somewhat out of character for a marquee player.

    In recent years, top players like Spieth have largely avoided the distractions that come with the PAC and policy board. Of course, we’ve also learned in recent years that Spieth is not your typical superstar.

    Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

    On second thought. In December at the Hero World Challenge, Dustin Johnson was asked about a possible golf ball roll-back, which has become an increasingly popular notion in recent years.

    “I don't mind seeing every other professional sport. They play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball,” he said in the Bahamas. “I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage.”

    The world No. 1 appeared to dial back that take this week in Abu Dhabi, telling BBC Sport, “It's not like we are dominating golf courses. When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy?”

    Maybe it didn’t feel that way, but DJ’s eight-stroke romp two weeks ago at the Sentry Tournament of Champions certainly looked pretty easy.

    Long odds. I had a chance to watch the Tour’s 15-minute integrity training video that players have been required view and came away with a mixture of confusion and concern.

    The majority of the video, which includes a Q&A element, focuses on how to avoid match fixing. Although the circuit has made it clear there is no indication of current match fixing, it’s obviously something to keep an eye on.

    The other element that’s worth pointing out is that although the Tour may be taking the new program seriously, some players are not.

    “My agent watched [the training video] for me,” said one Tour pro last week at the Sony Open.

    Missed Cut

    Groundhog Day. To be fair, no one expected Patton Kizzire and James Hahn to need six playoff holes to decide last week’s Sony Open, but the episode does show why variety is the spice of life.

    After finishing 72 holes tied at 17 under, Kizzire and Hahn played the 18th hole again and again and again and again. In total, the duo played the par-5 closing hole at Waialae Country Club five times (including in regulation play) on Sunday.

    It’s worth noting that the playoff finally ended with Kizzire’s par at the sixth extra hole, which was the par-3 17th. Waialae’s 18th is a fine golf hole, but in this case familiarity really did breed contempt.

    Tweet of the week:

    It was a common theme last Saturday on Oahu after an island-wide text alert was issued warning of an inbound ballistic missile and advising citizens to “seek immediate shelter.”

    The alert turned out to be a mistake, someone pushed the wrong button during a shift change, but for many, like Peterson, it was a serious lesson in perspective.

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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.”