Wie all the buzz at LPGA Tour Championship
That’s because so many players kept stopping by to offer congratulations at The Houstonian Golf & Country Club.
Wie’s breakthrough victory Sunday at the Lorena Ochoa Invitational in Mexico was all the buzz at the season-ending event.
Her swing coach, David Leadbetter, relished the interruptions because he remembers not so long ago when Wie wasn’t embraced upon arriving for LPGA events.
“Michelle’s really, really at home out here now,” Leadbetter said. “She really feels like she belongs and doesn’t feel like, well, almost a leper out here, which is the way it was at one stage. There was so much criticism. It’s really hard for a young person to take so much criticism and perform. She’s really very popular now.”
Wie was literally embraced after she walked onto the property Tuesday.
“I couldn’t wait to give her a hug,” LPGA veteran Lorie Kane said.
Leadbetter also relished seeing Morgan Pressel and Brittany Lincicome wait around after Wie won Sunday to douse Wie in a cocktail fizz because he knew how hard Wie had worked to claim her first victory. Though she’s a rookie, Wie won in her 65th LPGA start. She won a month after her 20th birthday with critics wondering if she would ever win.
“It was a huge, huge cross to bear,” Leadbetter said.
Val Skinner, the six-time LPGA winner, said she couldn’t help fighting back tears watching Wie close out Sunday’s victory while working as a Golf Channel analyst.
“I felt the release for her, of finally getting the 7,000-pound gorilla off her back,” Skinner said.
Craig Castrale, husband and caddie to Nicole Castrale, couldn’t help noticing the play the LPGA got among other major sports on Sunday night sports/news telecasts.
“They showed highlights of Michelle Wie winning before they showed the highlights of Tiger Woods winning on ESPN 'SportsCenter,” Castrale said.
Wie arrived for the LPGA Tour Championship on Monday, but she didn’t come out to the golf course until Tuesday morning. She worked on her short game with Leadbetter and hit some full shots but did not play. Her left ankle’s still bothering her, but she said she expects to be ready to go when play begins on Thursday. She sprained the ankle during the Solheim Cup in August and re-injured it stepping into a hole at the Navistar Classic during the first week of October.
“I’m feeling confident, I’m feeling good,” Wie said in the clubhouse after practicing. “Whatever happens, I’m just going to try my hardest and try to play my best.”
Wie’s walk through the clubhouse was like a victory parade with players, fans and volunteers offering congratulations.
“It’s been crazy,” Wie said. “It’s a lot of fun, but my focus is on this week. I want to play even better.”
Wie’s victory was emotional. She said she cried after hitting her bunker shot at the final hole to less than a foot to secure Sunday’s victory. With so many fans watching to see if she can win again this week, there’s a danger of an emotional letdown, but there’s also the benefit of confidence and momentum gained.
“My golf game is only going to get better from here,” Wie said.
That’s the expectation on tour.
“I think the floodgates are going to open,” LPGA veteran Laura Davies said.
Davies isn’t alone.
“We knew she was going to win before too long,” Pressel said. “She’s too good a player to be out here and not win.”
Pressel and Wie have forged a friendship since Wie gained her LPGA membership at Q-School last year and joined the tour full time.
“Michelle’s created a buzz with her win,” Pressel said. “You knew it was going to happen. I’m glad for her, that she doesn’t have that cloud hanging over her head anymore. Maybe she can get back to just playing golf.”
Lincicome believes what is good for Wie is good for the LPGA.
“The better she does, the more exposure we all get,” Lincicome said. “We are all rooting for her. We are obviously trying to promote our tour to be the best we can be. If that’s her playing well, or Paula Creamer, we are rooting for them to do well.”
Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational
Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.
The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.
Rose leads Indonesian Masters; Snedeker WDs
JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose completed the final two holes of his second round early Saturday for a 3-under 69 and a one-stroke lead at the Indonesian Masters.
Rose, who had a first-round 62, was among a quarter of the field forced off the Royale Jakarta Golf Club course after weather delays on Friday.
The Englishman, who bogeyed his last hole, had a two-round total of 13-under 131.
Kiradech Aphibarnrat, who completed his 64 on Friday, was in second place.
Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters. He has been affected by a rib-sternum injury for most of the season.
Newsmaker of the Year: No. 2, Donald Trump
Even away from the White House, President Donald Trump generated plenty of headlines this year.
Trump’s first year in office didn’t dim his enthusiasm for the game, as he made splashy appearances at two big events, tweeted about golf to his more than 44 million followers, teed it up with some of the sport’s biggest stars, including Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Lexi Thompson, and fired a few eyebrow-raising scores. Logging more than 75 rounds since his inauguration, the 3-handicap has only bolstered his reputation as the best golfing president, particularly after his alleged 73 with Sen. Lindsey Graham.
None of his appearances created a bigger stir than when he attended the U.S. Women’s Open. Despite protests and calls for the USGA to move its premier women’s event from Trump Bedminster – the president reportedly threatened to sue – his weekend there went off without incident, as Trump watched the action and hosted players in his private box near the 15th green.
Despite his controversial rhetoric on a variety of national issues, Trump has remained a staunch supporter of women’s golf, and he became the first sitting president to attend the U.S. Women’s Open.
An honorary chairman of the Presidents Cup, Trump also flew to Liberty National for the biennial team event, where he presented the trophy to the U.S. team and dedicated the victory to the hurricane victims in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.
In late November, amid tweets about the national anthem, Turkey, Egypt and Time Magazine, Trump announced that he was playing a round in South Florida with Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.
Yes, that too became a headline, just like everything else Trump did in 2017.
Playing with the pros
Tiger, DJ and Faxon
President at the Presidents Cup
Purported round of 73 with Lindsey Graham
Cart on the green
Presence and protests at U.S. Women's Open
Trump golf properties
Reportedly fake TIME covers
Trump apologizes for voter-fraud story
Pros comment on the president
Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017
GolfChannel.com is counting down the top 10 Newsmakers of the Year as voted on by Golf Channel’s writers, editors, reporters and producers. Check out the list below, including future release dates. And click here for the full collection of articles.
No. 1: Dec. 18