Are Wie There Yet

By Kraig KannMay 19, 2006, 4:00 pm
By now you know, Michelle Wie shot even par 72 on Monday at the USGAs local qualifier for the United States Open. That 72 was the low score by a shot and in advancing, the USGA believes Michelle is the first woman to successfully move through local qualifying.
 
Whether you are a huge Wie supporter (and there are many of you) or one of the detractors (and there are quite a few of those as well), you must give her credit. And I believe plenty of credit is deserved.
 
But now is when it gets interesting. Really interesting.
 
Michelle Wie
Michelle Wie is one step away from a spot in the 106th U.S. Open.
Our research tells us that 70 players are exempt from qualifying for the U.S. Open in New York next month. That leaves 86 spots available in the 156-person field. Thats right ' person.
 
According to the USGA, approximately 750 players are still with hope of reaching Winged Foot from among the 14 Sectional Qualifying sites.
 
So do the math. Wie is among 750 vying for a precious 86 spots in the field at what most believe is the most demanding test in major championship golf. Last year at Canoe Brook Country Club in Summit, New Jersey there were 84 players chasing just six spots in the U.S. Open field. And it figures that both numbers might go up this time around. The field at Canoe Brook will be set early next week. Reports have the number in the field at around 200, with 25 or fewer spots at stake. And the field will have major champions and multiple players with PGA TOUR and Nationwide Tour wins.
 
One day. 36 holes. A spot in the United States Openagainst the men. Good luck.
 
The possibility of playing at Winged Foot? Its the U.S. Open, the name speaks for itself, Wie said. Its one of a kind.
 
And the odds of ultimate success are not strong. Wie is attempting to do what just 30 players did last year by advancing through both local and sectional qualifying sites.
 
So are you in favor of the quest? Do you think the media is making too much of the story? Do you wish the coverage were less?
 
No matter how you fall on the question, June 5th will be a media circus. It will be big because it has never happened before. No woman has ever qualified to compete with the men at a United States Open. So where will the story fall among other events going on in sports?
 
The Yankees and the Red Sox begin the first of a four-game series at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, NY. The NBA and NHL playoffs will still be ongoing. But if you can believe it, aside from being the dominant story on The Golf Channel, the Michelle Wie story could lead ESPNs SportsCenter. It could be the talk of NBCs Today Show. It figures to be a part of ABCs World News Tonight. Like it or not, be prepared.
 
Wies been down this road before. Shes competed against the men, shes lived the circus. Shes handled the questions. And she doesnt seem that fazed by it all anymore.
 
Playing with the men, Im not sure whats going to happen. It puts me in an almost uncomfortable place, Wie said. Thats what makes me a better player.
 
And thats all Michelle is trying to do. Shes trying to challenge herself. Shes trying to become a better player. In fact, shes trying to become the best weve seen. And while shes made more cuts against the men than shes won professional tournaments against the women, you have to give her some credit for putting herself out there to be criticized.
 
All this aside, Wies not at Winged Foot yet. Not by a longshot. Every player in the field at Canoe Brook ' while marveling at her ability ' will be chasing their own hopes of a spot in the U.S. Open.
 
Understand that Ill sleep just as well whether Michelle makes, or misses the U.S. Open. And I, too, question the motives and involvement of her parents at times. At the same time, however, I looked to my parents for almost every bit of advice and support at the age of 16. I wasnt ready to go at it on my own ' and I dont think Wie should be expected to do it.
 
Cleary Wie wants the challenge. Clearly she has the ability to be the one to make history. All I think we should do is to consider the magnitude of the challenge, the potential magnitude of the moment and not the magnetic force between Wie and the media during her quest.
 
Make or miss, it will be big either way. Her history with and against the men says the odds are against her. I say we toss aside any negativity between now and June 6th when we have our result.
 
Which side are you on?

Email your thoughts to Kraig Kann

Battling mono, Kaufman tied for lead at CME

By Randall MellNovember 19, 2017, 2:05 am

NAPLES, Fla. – Kim Kaufman’s bout with mononucleosis might leave fellow tour pros wanting to catch the fever, too.

A couple months after Anna Nordqvist battled her way into contention at the Women’s British Open playing with mono, and then thrived at the Solheim Cup with it, Kaufman is following suit.

In her first start since being diagnosed, Kaufman posted an 8-under-par 64 Saturday to move into a four-way tie for the lead at the CME Group Tour Championship. It was the low round of the day. She’s bidding to win her first LPGA title.

“I’ve been resting at home for two weeks,” Kaufman said. “Didn’t do anything.”

Well, she did slip on a flight of stairs while recuperating, hurting her left wrist. She had it wrapped Saturday but said that’s mostly precautionary. It didn’t bother her during the round.


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“I’m the only person who can take two weeks off and get injured,” Kaufman joked.

Kaufman, 26, left the Asian swing after playing the Sime Darby Malaysia, returning to her home in South Dakota, to see her doctor there. She is from Clark. She was told bed rest was the best thing for her, but she felt good enough to make the trip to Florida for the season-ending event.

“We had some really cold days,” Kaufman said. “We had some snow. I was done with it. I was coming down here.”

How does she feel?

“I feel great,” she said. “I’m a little bit shaky, which isn’t great out there, but it’s great to be here doing something. I was going a little bit stir crazy [at home], just kind of fighting through it.”

Kaufman made eight birdies in her bogey-free round.

New-look Wie eyes CME Group Tour Championship title

By Randall MellNovember 19, 2017, 1:32 am

NAPLES, Fla. – Michelle Wie is sporting a new look that even has fellow players doing double takes.

Bored during her six-week recovery from an emergency appendectomy late this summer, Wie decided to cut and die her hair.

She went for golden locks, and a shorter style.

“I kind of went crazy after being in bed that long,” Wie said. “I just told my mom to grab the kitchen scissors and just cut all my hair off.”

Wie will get to sport her new look on a big stage Sunday after playing herself into a four-way tie for the lead at the CME Group Tour Championship. With a 6-under-par 66, she is in contention to win her fifth LPGA title, her first since winning the U.S. Women’s Open three years ago.


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Wie, 28, fought her way back this year after two of the most disappointing years of her career. Her rebound, however, was derailed in late August, when she withdrew from the final round of the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open to undergo an emergency appendectomy. She was out for six weeks.

Before the surgery, Wie enjoyed getting back into contention regularly, with six finishes of T-4 or better this season. She returned to the tour on the Asian swing in October.

Fellow tour pros were surprised when she came back with the new look.

“Definitely, walk by people and they didn’t recognize me,” Wie said.

Wie is looking to continue to build on her resurgence.

“I gained a lot of confidence this year,” she said. “I had a really tough year last year, the last couple years. Just really feeling like my old self. Really feeling comfortable out there and having fun, and that's when I play my best.”

You Oughta Know: LPGA's Sunday scenarios

By Randall MellNovember 19, 2017, 1:17 am

NAPLES, Fla. – The CME Group Tour Championship is loaded with pressure-packed subplots Sunday at Tiburon Golf Club.

Here’s what You Oughta Know about the prizes at stake:

Race to the CME Globe

Lexi Thompson and Sung Hyun Park are 1-2 in CME Globe points. They are best positioned Sunday to take home the $1 million jackpot in the season-long competition.

Thompson and Park are tied for fifth in the tournament, one shot off the lead. If either of them wins, she will take home the jackpot.

The way it’s unfolding Thompson is a good bet to take home the jackpot by merely finishing ahead of Park, unless they both stumble badly on Sunday.

Ariya Jutanugarn is tied for the lead. She must win to take home the jackpot, but she would also need Thompson to finish ninth or worse and Park to finish eighth or worse and nobody else among the top 12 in points to make a bold Sunday charge.

Stacy Lewis is one shot off the lead with a longshot chance at the jackpot. She must win the tournament while Thompson finishes 26th or worse, Park finishes 12th or worse and nobody else among the top 12 in points makes a bold Sunday charge.

So Yeon Ryu, Shanshan Feng and Brooke Henderson are among others who still have a shot at the $1 million prize, but they have fallen back in the pack and need bold Sunday charges to take home the jackpot.

Rolex Player of the Year

The Rolex Player of the Year Award remains a four-player race.

Ryu (162), Feng (159), Park (157) and Thompson (147) all have a chance to win the award.

Park and Thompson are best positioned to make Sunday moves to overtake Ryu.

Park needs to finish sixth or better to win the award outright; Thompson needs to win the tournament to win the award.

It’s simple math.

The top 10 in the tournament will be awarded points.

1st - 30 points

2nd – 12 points

3rd – 9 points

4th – 7 points

5th – 6 points

6th – 5 points

7rd – 4 points

8th – 3 points

9th – 2 points

10th – 1 point

Vare Trophy

Thompson took a 69.147 scoring average to Naples. Park needs to finish nine shots ahead of Thompson to have a shot at the trophy.

Money-winning title

Park leads the tour in money winnings with $2,262,472. Ryu is the only player who can pass her Sunday, and Ryu must win the tournament to do so. Ryu is tied for 32nd, five shots off the lead. If Ryu wins the tournament, she also needs Park to finish worse than solo second.

Rolex world No. 1 ranking

World No. 1 Feng, No. 2 Park and No. 3 Ryu are separated by just three hundredths of a point.

Because they are so close, the scenarios for overtaking Feng are head spinning.

At No. 4, Thompson is a full average ranking point behind Feng, but she could become the sixth different player this season to move to No. 1. Thompson, however, has to win Sunday to have a chance to do so, and then it will depend on what Feng, Park and Ryu do. Again, the scenarios are complex.

Cook leads RSM Classic by three at Sea Island

By Associated PressNovember 19, 2017, 12:28 am

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. - PGA Tour rookie Austin Cook shot a 4-under 66 on Saturday to increase his lead to three strokes in the RSM Classic.

Cook, a shot ahead after a second-round 62, had five birdies and a bogey - his first of the week - to reach 18-under 194 with a round left at Sea Island Golf Club's Seaside Course.

''Putting is key right now,'' Cook said. ''Been able to make a lot of clutch putts for the pars to save no bogeys. Hitting the ball pretty much where we're looking and giving ourselves good opportunities on every hole.''

Former University of Georgia player Chris Kirk was second after a 64.

''I'm really comfortable here,'' Kirk said. ''I love Sea Island. I lived here for 6 1/2 years, so I played the golf course a lot, SEC Championships and come down here for the RSM Classic. My family and I, we come down here a few other times a year as well.''

Brian Gay was another stroke back at 14 under after a 69.

''I love the course,'' Gay said. ''We keep getting different wind directions so it's keeping us on our toes. Supposed to be another completely different wind direction tomorrow, so we're getting a new course every day.''


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J.J. Spaun had a 62 to get to 13 under.

''I just kind of played stress-free golf out there and kept the golf ball in front of me,'' Spaun said. ''I had a lot of looks and scrambled pretty well, even though it was only a handful of times, but pretty overall pleased with how I played today.''

Cook has made the weekend cuts in all four of his starts this season. The 26-year-old former Arkansas player earned his PGA Tour card through the Web.com Tour.

''I think with an extra year on the Web this past year, I really grew mentally and with my game, just kind of more confidence,'' Cook said. ''I was able to put myself in contention on the Web.com more this year than I have in the past. I think I've just, you know, learned from experiences on the Web to help me grow out here.''

He planned to keep it simple Saturday night.

''I've got my parents here and my in-laws are both here as well as my wife,'' Cook said. ''Go home and just have a good home-cooked meal and just kind of enjoy the time and embrace the moment.''

Kirk won the last of his four PGA Tour titles in 2015 at Colonial.

''It's nice to be back in contention again,'' Kirk said. ''It's been a little while for me. But I felt great out there today, I felt really comfortable, and so hopefully it will be the same way tomorrow and I'll keep my foot on the pedal and stay aggressive, try to make some birdies.''