2014 Newsmaker No. 6: Michelle Wie

By Randall MellDecember 15, 2014, 1:00 pm

Embers of ambition reignited in Michelle Wie this year.

Joy returned to her game.

You could see it in that fist pump when she buried the birdie putt that helped seal her U.S. Women’s Open victory on the 71st hole at Pinehurst. You could see it in the tweeted photo that went viral with her head buried in the Harton S. Semple Trophy as she guzzled a celebratory drink at a victory party later that night. You could see it again in a video that also went viral showing her doing some gravity defying twerking at that same party.

“She loves the game again,” says David Leadbetter, her swing coach. “Her passion is back.”

With her victory near her Hawaiian home at the Lotte Championship in April and her major championship breakthrough winning the U.S. Women’s Open in June, Wie showed in 2014 that she is prepared to be a consistent force in the women’s game. She left the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship hungry to build on all she achieved this year. She left making it clear she isn’t done making news.

“I worked really hard all year to try and get to No. 1,” Wie said. “I was really close. That kind of gets me going for next year. Something to look forward to. Really motivates me.”

Wie is No. 6 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings. She was No. 103 a little more than a year before winning at Pinehurst.

Leadbetter believes Wie hasn’t reached her summit in this hard climb back. With her health returning, with her skills and confidence coming back, Leadbetter believes Wie has started a “second act” to her career that could be something special.

“Michelle’s heading up the ladder, and there’s no reason she can’t climb all the way to No. 1, if she can stay injury free,” Leadbetter said. “Nobody out here has the shot making ability she does, and her short game is underrated. She can hit these little flops and spinners and has a variety of shots nobody else has.

“And her putting is steady now. I won’t say it’s brilliant, but she’s much more comfortable with her putting now. I really believe if she stays injury free, her best is still to come.”


2014 Newsmakers: 6. Wie7. Reed8. R&A9. Bubba | 10. DJ | Honorable mentions


Wie’s resurgence was good for the entire women’s game. Even her rivals saw that, with NBC’s U.S. Women’s Open TV ratings boosted to 1.7 in the final round, a 92 percent increase over 2013’s final round.

Wie may not be the best player in the women’s game yet, but she is its biggest star. Her rivals see that, too.

“Michelle Wie winning, I don't think you can script it any better,” said Stacy Lewis, who was Rolex world No. 1 when she finished second to Wie at the U.S. Women’s Open. “I think it's great for the game of golf. I think it's even better for women's golf.”

So does Hall of Famer Pat Bradley, who watched Wie win and thought about how she and so many other players of her generation benefited playing with the popular Nancy Lopez in the ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s.

“People came out to watch Nancy, and some of them watched me,” Bradley said. “Nancy did that for my generation, and I can see Michelle doing that for this generation. She can move the needle for the LPGA like Tiger did for the PGA Tour. This young lady has very broad shoulders.”

Wie entered 2014 insisting all she wanted was to become more consistent. In the end, her overall stats were as revealing as her two victories. She finished the year third in scoring average (69.81), fourth in money winnings ($1,924,796), third in greens in regulation (77 percent) and fourth in putts per greens in regulation (1.764). They’re all career bests. She logged 13 top-10 finishes, another career best.

Wie won the inaugural Rolex Annika Major Award for the best overall performance in women’s majors this year. Though her Sunday duel with Lexi Thompson came up short at the Kraft Nabisco, it was another early sign Wie was putting together all the pieces in her game. If not for a finger injury that kept her out of competition for parts of almost three months in the second half of the season, Wie might have made an even harder challenge for the game’s big awards. She was diagnosed with a “stress reaction” to her right index finger after hitting out of a divot at the Marathon Classic in late July, but she looked good when she did finally make a full return at year’s end. She was top five in three of her last five starts.

“I'm really proud of myself and appreciative of everything that's happened this year,” Wie said. “So many great things have happened. I really can't complain. I'm so grateful, and I'm really looking forward to 2015.”

Getty Images

The Social: G.O.A.T., after G.O.A.T., after G.O.A.T.

By Jason CrookJanuary 23, 2018, 6:00 pm

Tom Brady compares himself to Tiger Woods, who coincidentally is returning to the PGA Tour this week, Jordan Spieth hangs out with some decent company and kids these days ruffle some feathers with their friendships.

All that and more in this week's edition of The Social.

Well, it’s finally Farmers Insurance Open week and Woods has been spotted practicing for his official return to the PGA Tour on Thursday.

Some thought this day might never come after a 2017 filled with mostly downs for the 14-time major champ.

But as he has taught the golf world time and time again, you just can't count Tiger out.

So even as Jon Rahm attempts to overtake Dustin Johnson for No. 1 in the world this week at Torrey Pines, all eyes will be on one of the greatest we've ever seen do it, even if that guy is ranked No. 647 in the world.

Speaking of greatness …

There’s not many who can just offhandedly compare themselves to Tiger, but if anyone gets a pass, it’s Tom Brady.

The 40-year-old New England Patriots quarterback led his team back to the Super Bowl for the second straight year despite playing the AFC title game with a cut on his throwing hand.

When asked about it after the Patriots come-from-behind victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Brady answered, “I think it's kind of arrogant to say it bothered me when we had a pretty good game, so I wouldn't say that. It's like when Tiger Woods said, ‘That was my C game’ and he won the tournament.”

So there you have it. A 40-year-old Brady is winning AFC Championships with his C game. Good luck, Eagles; you’re going to need it.

Also, if for some reason you wanted an update on Justin Thomas' life, it's still awesome:

Yeah, that's last year's PGA Tour Player of the Year hanging with Cy Young winner Cory Kluber in a suite at the Patriots game and teasing us with a possible #SB2K18 cameo.

Curtis Strange likes his competitive golf straight up, hold the friendliness.

This, according to Curtis Strange.

The two-time U.S. Open champ took to Twitter during the CareerBuilder Challenge to vent his frustration regarding the constant chit-chat and friendliness between Rahm and Andrew Landry:

This, of course, makes sense in theory. But good luck watching golf – or really any sport – from here on out. Sure there will be a few old school guys who buck the trend here and there, but for the most part, it’s really hard to share a private jet/dinners/vacations/(insert awesome thing here) with someone, and then completely turn off the friendship coming down the stretch of a big tournament.

Damn millennials. They ruin everything.

By now you've all seen that poor Philadelphia Eagles fan who lost his battle with a subway station pillar (from multiple angles), so instead here is a video of a man attempting to stand on an egg. Bet you can't guess how that goes.

Tony's gonna stand on an egg

A post shared by theCHIVE (@thechive) on

Seriously if you haven't seen the video of that Eagles fan, here's your last chance in this column. You'll be glad you did.

Jordan Spieth, Michael Phelps and Bryce Harper walk on to a golf course … there’s no punchline, that actually happened last week in Las Vegas.

Was the whole thing just a big advertisement for Spieth’s new Under Armour shoe? You bet.

But that doesn’t make the optics of three of the biggest superstar athletes on the planet teeing it up for a round any less awesome.

Off to the next. #Spieth2 #TEAMUA

A post shared by Under Armour Golf (@uagolf) on

The trio has three major wins, five All Star Game appearances and 28 Olympic medals between them, and there they were over the weekend just fake laughing for the camera and driving around individual golf carts with their own personalized logos on them.

Just guys being dudes. Nothing better than that.

Matt Kuchar. Still good at golf. Still overly polite. This according to European Tour pro Eddie Pepperell who had the privilege of hitting on the range next to Kuuuuuch in Abu Dhabi last week.

That image is burned into your brain forever now, thanks Eddie. From now on when you think of Kuchar you're going to think of those Sketches ads and "oopsies."

Which, I suppose is better than a, "Did you get that?"

Blayne Barber's caddie, Cory Gilmer, collapsed and hit his head while at a restaurant at the Sony Open and has been mostly unconscious in the neurological intensive care unit ever since.

The outpouring of love and support from the golf community has been overwhelming on social media, and a GoFundMe page has been set up to help with the mounting medical costs for Gilmer and his family.

Check out the link below for more info or to donate to a worthy cause:

Getty Images

Top-ranked amateur wins LAAC, earns Masters invite

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 23, 2018, 5:38 pm

Joaquin Niemann walked Augusta National Golf Club as a patron last year. He’ll be a competitor in 2018.

Niemann, the top-ranked amateur in the world, shot 8-under 63 Tuesday at Prince of Wales Country Club in his native Santiago, Chile, to win the Latin America Amateur Championship.

And with the title, both redemption and an invitation to the Masters Tournament.


Full-field scores from the Latin America Amateur Championship


Niemann finished runner-up in last year’s LAAC to fellow Chilean Toto Gana. He followed Gana around Augusta grounds, watching as his best friend played two rounds before missing the cut.

Niemann, who was going to turn professional had he not won this week, started the final round one back of Mexico’s Alvaro Ortiz. Niemann was sluggish from the start on Tuesday, but then drove the 313-yard, par-4 eighth and made the eagle putt. That sparked a run of five birdies over his next six holes.

Niemann was bogey-free in the final round and finished five shots clear of Ortiz, at 11 under.

Getty Images

Judges Panel, Host Announced for Wilson Golf's "Driver vs. Driver 2," Premiering This Fall on Golf Channel

By Golf Channel Public RelationsJanuary 23, 2018, 4:15 pm

‘Driver vs. Driver 2 Presented by Wilson Currently in Production; Sports Broadcaster Melanie Collins Returns to Host

Morning Drive: Driver vs. Driver 2 Judges Announced

Golf Channel and Wilson Golf announced today the panel of judges and host for the second season of Driver vs. Driver, the innovative television series that follows aspiring golf equipment designers as they compete for the opportunity to have their driver idea or concept transformed into the next great golf driver from Wilson. The show is currently in production and will premiere this fall.

Joining judge Tim Clarke, President of Wilson Golf, are two newcomers to the series: 9-time National Hockey League (NHL) All-Star and current NHL on NBC hockey analyst Jeremy Roenick – an avid golfer with a single digit handicap and a self-described golf equipment junkie; and PGA Professional, golf coach, equipment reviewer and social media influencer Rick Shiels.

“Golf is a big passion of mine, and personally I enjoy learning about new equipment and concepts,” said Roenick. “To be able to see this side of the business in how equipment is developed first-hand is fascinating. Being a part of the process in reviewing driver concepts and narrowing them down to an ultimate winning driver that will be sold across the country is a tremendous honor.” 

“Jeremy, as an avid golfer, and Rick, as a coach, equipment reviewer and golf professional, bring incredible, real world insights and different perspectives to the show and this process,” said Clarke. “I’m excited to work alongside these two judges to push the boundaries of innovation and bring a next-generation driver to golfers around the world.”

Sports broadcaster Melanie Collins returns as the host of Driver vs. Driver 2. Currently a sideline reporter for CBS Sports’ college football and basketball coverage, Collins hosted the inaugural season in 2016 and formerly co-hosted Golf Channel’s competition series, Big Break.

Production for Driver vs. Driver 2 began in the fall of 2017 and will continue through the summer, including this week at the PGA Merchandise Show. The series is being produced by Golf Channel, whose portfolio of original productions include interview series Feherty hosted by Emmy-nominated sports personality David Feherty, high-quality instruction shows School of Golf, Golf Channel Academy and Playing Lessons and a slate of award-winning films.

Getty Images

Tiger Tracker: Farmers Insurance Open

By Tiger TrackerJanuary 23, 2018, 4:00 pm

Tiger Woods is competing in a full-field event for the first time in nearly a year. We're tracking him at this week's Farmers Insurance Open. (Note: Tweets read, in order, left to right)