Wie inspired playing alongside Ko at Kraft

By Randall MellApril 5, 2013, 1:55 am

RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. – Lydia Ko says she idolized Michelle Wie growing up, but she turned this relationship upside down in their pairing Thursday at the Kraft Nabisco Championship.

It was the 15-year-old Ko inspiring the 23-year-old Wie in the first round.

Ko’s youthful bliss was in some ways like an astrophysical gift to Wie, a magic ticket to the past and the feelings that came at the start of Wie’s own run as a phenom at Mission Hills’ Dinah Shore Course.

Wie opened with an even-par 72, equaling Ko in the start to the year’s first major. They’re just four shots off the lead.

While Wie did not go as low as she did in some of her youthful blitzes on this course, Thursday was a promising show of improved form. Wie arrived this week having missed the cut in all three full-field events she has played this season. She arrived under a growing cloud of doubt over whether she will ever fulfill the great promise she generated in this event. She also arrived determined to turn her game around.

“Puts me back on memory lane,” Wie said of the Ko pairing. “You kind of have to play like when I was 13, just kind of go out there and really just be in awe of everything.

“When I was 13, I was like, 'Wow, I can’t believe I’m here.' So, I tried to bring that feeling a little bit and just feel lucky that I’m here.”

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Wie was encouraged because her 72 felt as if it could have been so much better.

“Two stupid mistakes on the back nine, but it feels good,” Wie said. “It feels good to show I could have shot 66 out here, and it feels good to know I left a lot of birdie chances out there. I’m just excited for tomorrow. I just can’t wait to get out there and make some birdies.”

Wie tied for ninth in her first appearance at Kraft Nabisco when she was 13. She made news around the world becoming the youngest player to make a cut in an LPGA event, and then she made bigger news tearing up the Dinah Shore Course in the third round. She shrunk the layout with monster drives on her way to a 66 that Saturday. Stunningly, the effort earned her a spot in the final Sunday pairing with Patricia Meunier-Lebouc and Annika Sorenstam, the game’s most dominant player.

While Wie faded that Sunday and Meunier-Lebouc won, Wie’s star was blinding in so many ways. She would finish fourth at Kraft Nabisco as a 14-year-old and tie for third in the championship as a 16-year-old.

This is the event where Wie most fueled speculation she would eventually dominate the women’s game.

Wie, of course, has struggled as skepticism grows that she will never reach the grand heights projected.

That was reinforced with Thursday’s release of a Sorenstam interview in Golf Magazine’s newest edition.

“What I see now is that the talent we all thought was there is not there,” Sorenstam said in the Q&A.

Wie said after Thursday’s round that Sorenstam apologized to her Wednesday night.

“She actually reached out to me last night, said a couple things got misquoted, and I thought it was really nice of her to reach out to me,” Wie said. “She apologized for what she said, and I accept it, and that’s that.”

If Wie is going to find old magic, this venue would seem the fitting place.

“I had such an amazing experience playing here as an amateur,” Wie said. “I think it’s why Kraft is so special, because it gives amateurs these opportunities to play with pros, and it just brought me back to memory lane a little bit.”

Those teen phenom years seem so long ago in Wie’s career. In the first release of the Rolex Women’s World Rankings in 2006, Wie was No. 3. She was 16 years old.

Wie is sinking fast in those rankings. She’s 86th in the world today. Last year, she missed 10 cuts, winning just $158,546 and falling to No. 64 on the LPGA money list.

Injuries, chasing a dream to compete against the world’s best men, devoting herself to gaining a degree from Stanford, too much parental influence – they’ve all been blamed for Wie’s struggles. So has Wie’s unending battle with her putter.

Frustrated on the greens, Wie went to a unusual putting stance late last year where she is dramatically hunched over at the waist. She putts with her upper body parallel to the ground. Her arms are raked in tight to her sides. She said she was inspired by the notion that Ai Miyazato and Jiyai Shin are such good putters, and they’re both so short, so close to the ground. Still, Wie’s crazy contortion has puzzled the most respected observers of the game.

“I'll be as candid as I can be,” Hall of Famer Judy Rankin said. “I see nothing good about it.

“I don't think in that position a person can even clearly or comfortably see their line. I think it completely inhibits any freedom of movement, and it cannot possibly help your touch. And if I were advising her, I would tell her, enough with that experiment, let's do something that might be more productive.”

Wie’s pairing with Ko can’t help but make golf fans contrast and compare. Ko’s rise is even more remarkable than Wie’s. Ko won the U.S. Women’s Amateur last year and two weeks later became the youngest winner in the history of the LPGA claiming the CN Canadian Women’s Open at 15. She was still 15 when she became the youngest winner of a Ladies European Tour event this year.

“I guess a lot of people put us in comparison, but I don’t like to compare,” Wie said. “I think she’s really good on her own without having to compare her to me.”

Ko said playing with Wie is special.

“She’s my idol,” Ko said. “So, I was very excited.”

Wie seemed equally excited to have Ko’s youthful promise elevating Wie’s search for old magic.

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Perez skips Torrey, 'upset' with Ryder Cup standings

By Will GrayJanuary 24, 2018, 2:19 am

Pat Perez is unhappy about his standing on the U.S. Ryder Cup points list, and his situation won't improve this week.

Perez won the CIMB Classic during the fall portion of this season, and he followed that with a T-5 finish at the inaugural CJ Cup. But he didn't receive any Ryder Cup points for either result because of a rule enacted by the American task force prior to the 2014 Ryder Cup which only awards points during the calendar year of the biennial matches as well as select events like majors and WGCs during the prior year.

As a result, Perez is currently 17th in the American points race - behind players like Patrick Reed, Zach Johnson, Bill Haas and James Hahn, none of whom have won a tournament since the 2016 Ryder Cup - as he looks to make a U.S. squad for the first time at age 42.

"That kind of upset me a little bit, the fact that I'm (17) on the list, but I should probably be (No.) 3 or 4," Perez told Golf Digest. "So it kind of put a bitter taste in my mouth. The fact that you win on the PGA Tour and you beat some good players, yet you don't get any points because of what our committee has decided to do."

Perez won't be earning any points this week because he has opted to tee it up at the European Tour's Omega Dubai Desert Classic. The decision comes after Perez finished T-21 last week at the Singapore Open, and it means that the veteran is missing the Farmers Insurance Open in his former hometown of San Diego for the first time since 2001.

Perez went to high school a few minutes from Torrey Pines, and he defeated a field that included Tiger Woods to win the junior world title on the South Course in 1993. His father, Tony, has been a longtime starter on the tournament's opening hole, and Perez was a runner-up in 2014 and tied for fourth last year.

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Woods favored to miss Farmers Insurance Open cut

By Will GrayJanuary 24, 2018, 1:54 am

If the Las Vegas bookmakers are to be believed, folks in the San Diego area hoping to see Tiger Woods this week might want to head to Torrey Pines early.

Woods is making his first competitive start of the year this week at the Farmers Insurance Open, and it will be his first official start on the PGA Tour since last year's event. He missed nearly all of 2017 because of a back injury before returning with a T-9 finish last month at the Hero World Challenge.

But the South Course at Torrey Pines is a far different test than Albany, and the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook lists Woods as a -180 favorite to miss the 36-hole cut. It means bettors must wager $180 to win $100, while his +150 odds to make the cut mean a bettor can win $150 with a $100 wager.

Woods is listed at 25/1 to win. He won the tournament for the seventh time in 2013, but in three appearances since he has missed the 36-hole cut, missed the 54-hole cut and withdrawn after 12 holes.

Here's a look at the various Woods-related prop bets available at the Westgate:

Will Woods make the 36-hole cut? Yes +150, No -180

Lowest single-round score (both courses par 72): Over/Under 70

Highest single-round score: Over/Under 74.5

Will Woods finish inside the top 10? Yes +350, No -450

Will Woods finish inside the top 20? Yes +170, No -200

Will Woods withdraw during the tournament? Yes +650, No -1000

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Monahan buoyed by Tour's sponsor agreements

By Rex HoggardJanuary 24, 2018, 12:27 am

SAN DIEGO – Farmers Insurance announced on Tuesday at Torrey Pines a seven-year extension of the company’s sponsorship of the Southern California PGA Tour event. This comes on the heels of Sony extending its sponsorship of the year’s first full-field event in Hawaii through 2022.

Although these might seem to be relatively predictable moves, considering the drastic makeover of the Tour schedule that will begin with the 2018-19 season, it is a telling sign of the confidence corporations have in professional golf.

“It’s a compliment to our players and the value that the sponsors are achieving,” Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said.

Monahan said that before 2014 there were no 10-year title sponsorship agreements in place. Now there are seven events sponsored for 10-years, and another five tournaments that have agreements in place of at least seven years.

“What it means is, it gives organizations like the Century Club [which hosts this week’s Farmers Insurance Open], when you have that level of stability on a long-term basis that allows you to invest in your product, to grow interest and to grow the impact of it,” Monahan said. “You experienced what this was like in 2010 or seen other tournaments that you don’t know what the future is.S o to go out and sell and inspire a community and you can’t state that we have a long-term agreement it’s more difficult.”

Events like this year’s Houston Open, Colonial in Fort Worth, Texas, and The National all currently don’t have title sponsors – although officials at Colonial are confident they can piece together a sponsorship package. But even that is encouraging to Monahan considering the uncertainty surrounding next season’s schedule, which will include the PGA Championship moving to May and The Players to March as well as a pre-Labor Day finish to the season.

“When you look back historically to any given year [the number of events needing sponsors] is lower than the typical average,” Monahan said. “As we start looking to a new schedule next year, you get excited about a great schedule with a great group of partners.”

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Day WDs from Farmers pro-am because of sore back

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 24, 2018, 12:07 am

SAN DIEGO – Jason Day has withdrawn from the Wednesday pro-am at the Farmers Insurance Open, citing a sore back.

Day, the 2015 champion, played a practice round with Tiger Woods and Bryson DeChambeau on Tuesday at Torrey Pines, and he is still expected to play in the tournament.

Day was replaced in the pro-am by Whee Kim. 

Making his first start since the Australian Open in November, Day is scheduled to tee off at 1:30 p.m. ET Thursday alongside Jon Rahm and Brandt Snedeker.