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.”
Spieth, Thomas headline winter break trip to Cabo
Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth. Really good at golf. Really good at vacationing.
With #SB2K18 still months away, Thomas and Spieth headlined a vacation to Cabo San Lucas, and this will shock you but it looks like they had a great time.
Spring break veteran Smylie Kaufman joined the party, as did Thomas' roommate, Tom Lovelady, who continued his shirtless trend.
The gang played all the hits, including shoeless golf in baketball jerseys and late nights with Casamigos tequila.
In conclusion, it's still good to be these guys.
Awards season: Handing out the 2017 Rexys
After careful consideration and an exhaustive review of 2017 we present The Rexys, a wildly incomplete and arbitrary line up following one of the most eventful years in golf.
There will be omissions – just keep your calls, concerns and even e-mails to yourself. We appreciate your patronage, but not your feedback.
It’s Not You, It’s Me Award. You know the deal: You can’t be a part of two until you’re a better one; but on this front it’s really just a desire to find a better two.
It was a tough year for caddies, and not just any caddies. In June, Phil Mickelson split with longtime bagman Jim “Bones” Mackay. Both player and caddie cited the need for “change,” but the move reverberated throughout the game.
“The fairytale is over,” mused one caddie when told of the high-profile split.
In the wake of the Lefty/Bones break, Rory McIlroy split with his caddie J.P Fitzgerald, and Jason Day replaced looper/swing coach Colin Swatton on his bag. It all proves yet again that there are only two kinds of caddies, those who have been fired and those who are about to be fired.
Run for the Rose Cup. Sergio Garcia got the green jacket, a lifetime exemption to the game’s most coveted member-member and a long-awaited major, but Justin Rose took home the slightly less prestigious “Rose Cup.”
Following a frenzied afternoon at Augusta National in April, Rose lost to Garcia on the first playoff hole, but he won so much more with his honesty and class.
“You're going to win majors and you're going to lose majors, but you've got to be willing to lose them,” Rose figured following the final round. “You've got to put yourself out there. You've got to hit the top of the leaderboard. There's a lot of pressure out there and if you're not willing to enjoy it, then you're not ready to win these tournaments. I loved it out there.”
Few have made losing look so dignified and fewer still are as easy to root for.
Half-Empty Cup. It was the perfect setting, with sweeping views of the Manhattan skyline and the promise of the Tristate masses descending on this fall’s Presidents Cup.
If only all those rowdy New Yorkers had something to cheer.
For the sixth time in the last seven matches, the U.S. team rolled to a victory of at least three points. This particular edition was even in danger of ending on Saturday afternoon thanks to a particularly dominant performance by a young American squad led by Steve Stricker.
Officials spoke of the purity of the competition and the attention the ’17 cup generated, but however you spin the 19-11 rout, this cup is half empty.
Enigma Award. The actual hardware is simply an oversized question mark and was sent directly to Tiger Woods’ South Florida compound following the most curious of seasons.
While it’s become customary in recent years to consider the uncertain path that awaits the 14-time major winner, this most recent calendar brought an entirely new collection of questions following fusion surgery on his lower back in April, his arrest for DUI on Memorial Day and, finally, a glimmer of hope born from his tie for ninth at the Hero World Challenge earlier this month.
When will he play again? Can he compete against the current generation of world-beaters? Can his body withstand the rigors of a full PGA Tour schedule? Should Jim Furyk make him a captain’s pick now or wait to see if he should be driving a vice captain’s golf cart instead?
Little is certain when it comes to Woods, and the over-sized question mark goes to ... the guy in red and black.
After Further Review Chalice. In April, Lexi Thompson endured a heartbreaking loss at the ANA Inspiration, the byproduct of a surreal ruling that arrived a day late via a viewer e-mail and cost the would-be winner a major championship.
The entire event was so unsavory that the USGA and R&A made not one but two alterations to the rules and created a “working group” to avoid similar snafus in the future.
That working group – it turns out the U.S. Ryder Cup team has some sort of copyright on “task force” – initially issued a decision that introduced a “reasonable judgment” and a “naked eye” standard to video reviews, and last week the rule makers kept the changes coming.
The new protocols on video review will now include an official to monitor tournament broadcasts and ended the practice of allowing fans to call in, or in this case e-mail, possible infractions to officials. The USGA and R&A also eliminated the two-stroke penalty for players who sign incorrect scorecards when the player is unaware of the penalty.
While all this might be a step in the right direction, it does nothing to change Thompson’s fate. The AFR Chalice won’t change the harsh reality, but at least it will serve as a reminder of how she helped altered the rulemaking landscape.
Nothing Runs Like a Deere Award. Nothing gets fans fired up like officials turning fields of fescue rough into hay on the eve of a major championship, and the USGA’s decision to do some 11th-hour trimming at Erin Hills in June certainly caught many by surprise.
Officials said the nip/tuck on four holes was in reaction to a particularly foreboding forecast that never materialized, and the maintenance drew the ire of some players.
“We have 60 yards from left line to right line,” Rory McIlroy said. “You’ve got 156 of the best players in the world here; if we can’t hit it within that avenue, you might as well pack your bags and go home.”
The record low scoring at the U.S. Open – winner Brooks Koepka finished with a 16-under total – didn’t help ease the fervor and had some questioning whether the softer side of the USGA has gone a bit too far?
Podcast: Daly takes big pride in 'Little John'
John Daly is a two-time major champion, but the newest trophy in his household belongs to someone else.
That’s because Daly’s son, 14-year-old Little John “LJ” Daly, rallied to capture an IJGT junior golf event over the weekend. The younger Daly birdied the first extra hole to win a five-person playoff at Harbour Town Golf Links, site of the PGA Tour’s RBC Heritage.
Daly recently sat down for a Golf Channel podcast to describe what it’s like to cheer for his son and PNC Father-Son Challenge partner, share the unique challenge presented by the upcoming Diamond Resorts Invitational and reflect on some of the notable highs of a career that has now spanned more than 25 years.
Sneds starts slowly in Masters invite bid
Brandt Snedeker flew halfway around the world in search of a Masters invite, but after one round of the Indonesian Masters it appears he'll likely return home empty-handed.
Snedeker made only two birdies during his opening round in Indonesia, shooting an even-par 72 that left him in a tie for 77th and 10 shots behind leader Justin Rose. This is the final OWGR-rated event of 2017, and as a result it has drawn several notable entrants, including Snedeker, who hope to crack the top 50 in the world rankings by year's end to secure a trip to Augusta National.
Snedeker started the year ranked No. 28, but after missing five months because of injury he entered the week ranked No. 51 and is projected to slip even further by the end of the month. As a result, he likely needs a top-3 finish in order to secure a return to the Masters, which he has missed only once since 2007.
World No. 55 Dylan Frittelli also struggled, shooting a 4-over 76 in the opening round, while No. 56 Kiradech Aphibarnrat is tied for 14th at 4 under. Yusaku Miyazato, currently 58th in the world, is tied for ninth and five shots behind Rose.
Should Snedeker and the other hopefuls fail to crack the top 50 by the end of the year, two paths to the Masters remain: win a full-point event on the PGA Tour in early 2018 or be inside the top 50 in the world rankings when the final cutoff is made on March 25.