Wie hoping her game returns as sickness leaves

By Randall MellMarch 17, 2015, 11:56 pm

PHOENIX – Michelle Wie doesn’t need a caddie these days as much as she does a nurse.

There’s nothing wrong with her game that a dose of antibiotics shouldn’t eventually fix.

That’s what her swing coach, David Leadbetter, believes as Wie prepares to begin the LPGA’s West Coast swing in the JTBC Founders Cup at the Marriott Wildfire Golf Club.

“Michelle’s had a pretty slow start to the year, but she’s been pretty sick,” Leadbetter said after watching Wie in a practice round Tuesday. “She’s been sick for a month.”

It turns out those “flu-like symptoms” Wie played with at the Pure Silk Bahamas Classic was actually strep throat, which she took with her on the tour’s Asian swing, where it  morphed into a sinus infection.

“The doctor said that I probably won’t be feeling 100 percent for the next couple weeks,” Wie said. “I’m feeling a lot better, thankfully, but it’s been tough. Right now, my No. 1 priority is just getting my health back in order.”

Expectations were ratcheted up again for Wie entering this year. Coming off last year’s U.S. Women’s Open victory at Pinehurst and her victory at the Lotte Championship, Wie seemed poised for more success. She looked ready to make a run at the Rolex world No. 1 ranking. She was playing that well through the middle of last year.

But then late last July, there was a finger injury, a “stress reaction” to the bone of the index finger of her right hand. It kept her out of action for about two months. Then, after taking a long six-week break in the off season, there is this lingering illness.

In four starts this year, Wie doesn’t have a top-10 or even top-20 finish. She missed the cut in the Bahamas, where she felt most ill.

Wie, 25, isn’t blaming all her sluggishness on how lousy she has been feeling.

“I think, maybe, I’ve just been trying too hard,” Wie said.

Wie ended last year fourth on tour in putts per greens in regulation. She was third in hitting greens in regulation and third in scoring. She’s 73rd in that putting category so far this year, 89th in hitting greens and 51st in scoring.

“Winning the U.S. Open, it gave me a lot of confidence,” Wie said. “Last year, in general, definitely gave me a lot of confidence, but you always want to do better. I think as a professional athlete, if you don't have that hunger, something's not right, and I think you have to put the right balance between wanting to do better, but then sometimes . . . just trying too hard.

“I think that's something I struggle with internally, is just trying too hard, and trying to make everything so perfect. I think that's what I did so well last year, is just letting go, letting go and just letting things happen.”

Christina Kim, Wie’s good friend, pretty much dismisses Wie’s last month as mostly irrelevant.

“I wouldn’t put any thought to her first four events of the year,” Kim said. “She was able to take a break after the end of last year, and that’s going to end up being huge. I think she’s going to have another very big year. It’s just a matter of making sure she’s rested enough.”

Wie had a couple top 10s in Asia early last year, and then she got hot on the West Coast. She battled Lexi Thompson in a final-round duel at the Kraft Nabisco Championship, finishing second. In her very next start, she won the Lotte Championship in front of hometown fans in Hawaii. She won the U.S. Women’s Open at Pinehurst six starts after that, holding off then Rolex world No. 1 Stacy Lewis in the end.

“We’re focused a little bit on just reminding Michelle what she did at Pinehurst,” Leadbetter said. “She’s pretty close, so expect her to play well in the next couple weeks.”

The ANA Inspiration, formerly the Kraft Nabisco, is two weeks away. Wie should be a good fit again at Mission Hills in Palm Springs. She has five top-10 finishes there, three finishes of fourth or better.

“I'm definitely putting the work in,” Wie said. “That's the kind of mentality I have. I know I'm working hard. I know I'm putting in all the hours. I know that I'm doing everything I can, and when I go out there, I've just got to let things happen, and try to free things up, for sure.”

With a little help from some antibiotics, Wie is hoping good things return to her game this week.

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After Further Review: Tiger's return comes at perfect time

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 2:19 am

Each week, GolfChannel.com takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

On the current state of golf as Tiger Woods returns to competition ...

Less than four days before Tiger Woods returns to official competitive golf for the first time in a year, Jon Rahm, the new second-ranked player in the world, won on the PGA Tour and Rory McIlroy made an impressive 2018 debut on the European Tour (T-3).

Not since Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus crossed paths at the 1960 U.S. Open has there been so many superstars all poised for big seasons, with world No. 1 Dustin Johnson having already won this year and Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas both coming off stellar seasons.

It’s a good time for golf. - Rex Hoggard

On Tommy Fleetwood's continued success ...

There have been scores of talented European players whose skills didn’t translate to the PGA Tour … and maybe, in a few years, Tommy Fleetwood will prove to be no different.

He sure looks like the real deal, though.  

His title defense in Abu Dhabi – on the strength of a back-nine 30 in windy conditions – was his third title in the past 12 months and 11th top-10 overall. A few of those have come in majors and World Golf Championship events, too, which led the reigning Race to Dubai champion to accept PGA Tour membership for this season.

Beginning at Riviera, he plans to play exclusively in the States through May, then reassess for the rest of the year. Hope he sticks, because he’s a fun personality with tons of game. - Ryan Lavner

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Rahm passes Spieth to become world No. 2

By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:25 am

With his win Sunday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, Jon Rahm picked up his second PGA Tour victory and moved to No. 2 in the FedExCup points standings.

He picked up one more No. 2, too.

The 23-year-old Spaniard passed Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, behind only Dustin Johnson.

In 19 months, since June 2016, Rahm has rocketed from No. 776 in the world to No. 2, thanks in part to his low divisor, his number of events played.

Asked after his playoff victory over Andrew Landry to discuss his rapid ascent up the world rankings, Rahm was almost at a loss.

“It's hard to believe to be honest, passing Jordan Spieth,” he said. “That's a three-time major champion. I only have two wins. He's got 10-plus, right? It's again – I've said it many times – I never thought I was going to be at this point in my life right now.”

Rahm may only have two PGA Tour titles, but this is his fourth worldwide win in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. He also took the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open and the DP World Tour Championship on his way to claiming the European Tour’s 2017 Rookie of the Year Award.

Dating back to the start of last season on the PGA Tour, Rahm has racked up 12 top-10s, three runner-ups, and two wins.

He will head to Torrey Pines next week ready to defend for the first time.

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Brady compares self to Woods after winning AFC title

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 1:05 am

Tom Brady and Tiger Woods are two of the all-time greats in their respective sports ... a fact that is not lost on the five-time Super Bowl winning quarterback.

Fresh off leading the New England Patriots to a AFC Championship victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Brady was asked about winning the game despite a cut on his throwing hand - which made national news heading into the matchup.

His response invoked the name of a certain 14-time major winner, something that would be tough to pull off, if not for the fact that he is, you know, Tom Brady.

“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," the 40-year-old told reporters after the game. "It's like when Tiger Woods said, ‘That was my C game’ and he won the tournament."

Tiger Woods winning with his "C game" may be a distant memory for golf fans, but no matter what game he brings, his next chance to win comes next week at Torrey Pines during his official comeback to the PGA Tour.

Brady has a shot at his sixth Super Bowl title in two weeks. The Patriots would probably benefit from him bringing a little better than his "C game" as well.

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Rahm beats Landry in playoff to win CareerBuilder

By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:00 am

Jon Rahm birdied the fourth extra hole Sunday to defeat Andrew Landry in a playoff, win the CareerBuilder Challenge and move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking. Here’s how things played out in overtime at PGA West:

Leaderboard: Rahm (-22), Landry (-22), John Huh (-20), Adam Hadwin (-20), Martin Piller (-20), Kevin Chappell (-19), Scott Piercy (-19)

What it means: This is Rahm’s second PGA Tour win and his fourth worldwide victory in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. Rahm took the early lead Thursday with an opening 62 and after rounds of 67-70, he started the final round two back. On Sunday, he made five birdies without dropping a single shot on the intimidating Stadium Course. In the clubhouse at 22 under, Rahm watched as Landry made birdie on 18 to force a playoff.

Rahm missed birdie putts that would have ended the tournament on the final hole of regulation and on each playoff hole. Finally, on his fourth trip down 18 of the day, his birdie bid found the cup. With the victory, Rahm passes Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, trailing only Dustin Johnson. He enters next week at Torrey Pines looking to defend for the first time.

Best of the rest: A two-time Web.com winner playing his second full season on the PGA Tour, Landry shot 68 Sunday, making birdie on the 72nd hole to force extras. Once Rahm finally made birdie on the fourth playoff hole, Landry's putt to extend slid by on the right edge. This is Landry's best career finish on the PGA Tour. Had he won, he would have secured full Tour status through the 2019-20 season and earned invites to the Masters, Players, and PGA Championships.

Round of the day: Sam Saunders fired an 8-under 64 to register this best finish of the season, a tie for eighth at 18 under. The reigning Web.com Tour Championship winner was 9 under par through 12 holes before making bogey at 13 and parring his way into the clubhouse.

Biggest disappointment: Overnight leader Austin Cook was eyeing his second win of the season but never contended. The RSM champion carded two double bogeys Sunday en route to a 3-over 75, dropping him from the 54-hole lead to a tie for 14th.

Shot of the day: Rahm's putt to win:

Quote of the day: "One of us had to do it and either one of us would have been a well-deserving champion." - Rahm on his playoff victory over Landry