Opposites attract for Open favorites Lewis, Wie

By Randall MellJuly 9, 2014, 7:10 pm

They share common bonds.

Stacy Lewis and Michelle Wie joined the LPGA together, both emerging through Q-School late in 2008 to earn their tour cards.

They both graduated from college, Lewis from the University of Arkansas and Wie from Stanford University. They value education and highly recommend it for juniors coming up.

They’re also practically neighbors now in South Florida, Lewis setting up her home in Palm Beach Gardens and Wie in Jupiter.

Still, the friendship they’ve formed over the last year strikes people as odd because they couldn’t be more different as personalities. They’ll tell you that with so much being made of their importance to the women’s game on the eve of the Ricoh Women’s British Open.

Wie, 24, is the painter who is into shoes and fashion and fine dining. Lewis, 29, is the finance and accounting major, more analytical by nature in how she views the world. She’s a Texan, rooted in that state’s rugged, ambitious view of life, work and play.

Wie came up in the game making it look easy, qualifying for an LPGA event when she was 12, playing in a PGA Tour event when she was 14 and turning pro when she was 15.

Lewis was diagnosed with scoliosis when she was 11. She hardly played in AJGA events growing up. When Wie began playing against men in PGA Tour events back in ’04, Lewis wasn’t even playing. She was sidelined on a medical redshirt at Arkansas, recovering from surgery to help mend her crooked back.

Still, today, these vastly different tour stars share a bond as broken players who put themselves back together. Lewis did so after her surgery, becoming an All-American and NCAA champion with the Razorbacks. Wie did so after injuries and some psychological trauma that came with being tagged as a failed prodigy and cautionary tale.

With Lewis and Wie the favorites to win the Women’s British Open at Royal Birkdale this week, there’s mutual respect and admiration in how their different paths got them where they are today.

Women’s British Open: Articles, videos and photos

Lewis is the world No. 1, an 11-time LPGA winner going for her fourth title this season.

Wie is No. 6 in the world, coming off her breakthrough U.S. Women’s Open victory at Pinehurst No. 2 last month.

They rank 1-2 on the LPGA tour this season in scoring, money, Rolex Player of the Year points and top-10 finishes. They came to Royal Birkdale having won the last two LPGA events staged.

“Obviously, we have the golf as the common bond, but, yeah, Michelle is the artsy kind of goofy person, and I'm definitely not that,” Lewis told reporters in her news conference Tuesday at Royal Birkdale. “I don't know what that is, but I’m not artsy at all. You go to her house, she's painted everything that's on her walls. It's all her paintings.”

And yet even as they battle to claim the biggest prizes in women’s golf, they’re finding a bond in their common cause. Wie plays out of the Bear’s Club in Jupiter, Lewis out of Medalist Golf Club in nearby Hobe Sound. They play matches together when they’re home, and on the Fourth of July, Wie invited Lewis to her home for a holiday party.

“I don't really know what it is, but I enjoy hanging around her,” Lewis said.

Lewis, always the analyst, is fascinated in how Wie has handled her fame and the harsh scrutiny that comes with it.

“It's cool how I've learned a lot from her, and how she has handled the media, and how she's handled the pressures and the expectations,” Lewis said. “She doesn't read anything that anybody writes, and she doesn't really care what anybody thinks about her. Wish I could be like that, too. There are some things about her that I've tried to be more like, and probably vice versa, I would think.”

Lewis said she got to know Wie better as a person playing in the last two Solheim Cups together, then as South Florida neighbors.

“I think once she went to school and went to Stanford, she really kind of became a different person,” Lewis said. “Now, she hangs out with players more, and she gets out and goes to dinner with people, instead of just kind of sticking to her team all the time. That's kind of when it all changed, I think.”

Wie has come to appreciate Lewis’ quiet strengths and sneaky good sense of humor.

“You know, at first, she doesn't really open up, and you kind of don't know how funny she is, or how quirky she is, and how sarcastic she is sometimes,” Wie said. “The last year, I've really gotten to know her. We've played a lot of golf together, and she's awesome. I definitely have gotten pretty close to her, and she's definitely a lot of fun.”

“I think she's really kind, too. A lot of people don't see is how kind she is. She took Jaye Marie Green and gave her a three‑hour chipping lesson. We got her on to the golf course, and she was teaching her everything.” 

Lewis wanted that U.S. Women’s Open trophy, but she was magnanimous in her understanding of what Wie went through to win it as she stood beside the 18th green watching Wie close out at Pinehurst. And while coming up short of the prize had to hurt, Lewis was able to see something else in Wie’s win, too.

“I don't know if anybody could be a female Tiger Woods, but Michelle definitely moves the needle,” Lewis said. “I think her playing good golf is good for everyone. It's good for the tour, and it's good for the other players. It really is a great, great thing. I said the U.S. Open couldn't have been scripted any better there.  We are on our biggest stage there, and our biggest star is winning there, and she won't even tell you that, but she is our biggest star and she moves the needle and her winning there was huge for us.”

Wie sounds grateful just to be lumped in the company of Lewis.

“I feel very honored that people are comparing me to her, or putting me up against her,” Wie said.

There’s motivation in that. Wie came into the year saying her only goal was to be more consistent. She sees the epitome of consistency in Lewis.

“I've just got to keep getting more consistent,” Wie said. “That's what Stacy is, she's consistent. She's deadly consistent, annoyingly consistent.”

Nobody’s been more consistently in contention this year than Lewis and Wie, and if their habits grow another week, the game just might see them battling down the stretch of another major this weekend.

“I love battling down the stretch with anybody, and if it was Michelle, that would be a great thing,” Lewis said. “We're never going to hate each other, though, so we are never going to be saying bad things about each other, and we are going to fight til the end, and then you congratulate the winner, and you go work hard and try and win the next week.

“It's going to take both of us playing good golf. Obviously, we can't just coast now because other people are going to be coming up trying to beat us, too.  We both have to just keep working hard and see what happens.”

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Pepperell among co-leaders early in Qatar

By Associated PressFebruary 22, 2018, 5:06 pm

DOHA, Qatar – Eddie PepperellGregory Havret, and Aaron Rai made the most of calm early morning conditions at Doha Golf Club to set the pace in the opening round of the Qatar Masters at 7-under-par 65 on Thursday.

Havret went bogey free, Pepperell made one bogey and eight birdies, while fellow English golfer Rai eagled his last hole to add to five birdies.

One shot behind the leaders were four players, including former Ryder Cup player Edoardo Molinari of Italy and former champion Alvaro Quiros of Spain.

Defending champion Jeunghun Wang of South Korea started with a 68, and Race to Dubai leader Shubhankar Sharma of India shot 69 despite a double bogey on the 15th hole.

Full-field scores from the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters

Pepperell, who is fast gaining a reputation on the European Tour for his irreverent tweets and meaningful blogs, showed his clubs can also do an equal amount of talking after missing cuts in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and Malaysia.

Pepperell birdied Nos. 10, 11, 14, 16 and 18 with a single blemish on 13 after starting on the back nine. He made three more birdies on his back nine.

He was joined on top of the leaderboard by Havret, who made five birdies in six holes from the sixth, and Rai, who eagled the last.

''I surprised myself, really,'' said Pepperell, who finished third in Portugal and Netherlands last year.

''I've made some changes this week with personnel, so I've been working on a couple of new things and I surprised myself out there with how well I managed to trust it.

''I hit some quality tee shots, that's the area I feel that I've been struggling with a bit lately. We had a good time.

''It's definitely a bigger picture for me this week than tomorrow and indeed the weekend. I'm not overly-fussed about my early season form.”

Molinari, a three-time champion on the tour including last year in Morocco, started with eight straight pars, and then made seven birdies in his last 10 holes, including a chip-in for birdie on the last.

''I hit every green apart from the last one. I hit a lot of fairways, I had a lot of chances for birdie,'' said Edoardo, the older brother of Francesco.

''Last week in Oman, I had a decent week, I had a bad first round and then three very good rounds. It's been the case for the last few weeks so my focus this week was to try and get a good start.''

Oliver Fisher of England was the best among the afternoon groups with a 6-under 66, joining Molinari, Quiros and Germany's Marcel Schneider in a tie for fourth.

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Tiger Tracker: Honda Classic

By Tiger TrackerFebruary 22, 2018, 4:45 pm

Tiger Woods is making his third start of the year at the Honda Classic. We're tracking him at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.

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Honda Classic: Tee times, TV schedule, stats

By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 22, 2018, 2:15 pm

The PGA Tour heads back east to kick off the Florida Swing at PGA National. Here are the key stats and information for the Honda Classic. Click here for full-field tee times.

How to watch:

Thursday, Rd. 1: Golf Channel, 2-6PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

Friday, Rd. 2: Golf Channel, 2-6PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

Saturday, Rd. 3: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream; CBS, 3-6PM ET

Sunday, Rd. 4: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream; CBS, 3-6PM ET

Purse: $6.6 million ($1,188,000 to the winner)

Course: PGA National, Palm Beach Gardens, Florida (par-70; 7,140 yards)

Defending champion: Rickie Fowler (-12) won by four, picking off his fourth PGA Tour victory.

Notables in the field:

Tiger Woods

• Making his fourth start at the Honda Classic and his first since withdrawing with back spasms in 2014.

• Shot a Sunday 62 in a T-2 finish in 2012, marking his lowest career final-round score on the PGA Tour.

• Coming off a missed cut at last week's Genesis Open, his 17th in his Tour career.

Rickie Fowler

• The defending champion owns the lowest score to par and has recorded the most birdies and eagles in this event since 2012.

• Fowler's last start was at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, where he failed to close a 54-hole lead. Fowler is 1-for-6 with 54-hole leads in his Tour career, with his only successful close coming at last year's Honda.

• On Tour this year, Fowler is first in scrambling from the fringe, second in total scrambling and third in strokes gained around the green. 

Rory McIlroy

• It's been feast or famine for McIlroy at the Honda. He won in 2012, withdrew with a toothache in 2013, finished T-2 in 2014 and missed the cut in 2015 and 2016.

• McIlroy ascended to world No. 1 with his victory at PGA National in 2012, becoming the second youngest player at 22 years old to top the OWGR, behind only Woods. McIlroy was later edged by a slightly younger 22-year-old Jordan Spieth.

• Since the beginning of 2010, only Dustin Johnson (15) has more PGA Tour victories than McIlroy (13). 

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Lexi, J. Korda part of four-way tie in Thailand

By Associated PressFebruary 22, 2018, 1:01 pm

CHONBURI, Thailand – Three-time tour winner Minjee Lee of Australia finished with a superb eagle putt to be among the four leaders after Day 1 of the LPGA Thailand at Siam Country Club on Thursday.

Lee sank a 45-foot putt on the 18th hole to card a 6-under-par 66 to tie for the lead with 2016 champion Lexi Thompson, Jessica Korda, and local hope Moriya Jutanugarn.

''I just hit the collar. I didn't know if I was going to have enough. Such a big break there. I'm glad it caught the hole,'' Lee said.

''It's a second-shot golf course. Your approaches are really important, and obviously being in the right spots with the undulation. And if you have a hot putter that's going to help.''

Full-field scores from the Honda LPGA Thailand

Lee won the Vic Open near Melbourne this month and opened her 2018 LPGA tour account last week at the Women's Australian Open, finishing fifth.

Thompson, who won this event in 2016 by six shots with a 20-under total and tied for fourth last year, started her latest round in style with an eagle followed by a birdie only to bogey the third hole. She carded four more birdies.

''It definitely helps to get that kind of start, but I was just trying to keep that momentum and not get ahead of myself,'' Thompson said.

Her compatriot Korda had a roller-coaster round which featured eagles on the first and 17th holes, five birdies, a double bogey on the sixth, and two bogeys.

Jutanugarn was the only player among the four to end the day without a bogey.

''I had a good start today, it was better than I expected,'' said Jutanugarn, who was seventh here last year.

She's trying to become the first Thai winner of the tournament.

Two-time champion Amy Yang and world No. 2 Sung Hyun Park were among six players at 5 under.